A LETTER TO MY BROTHER IN CALIFORNIA
Dear brother in California with sand and weed and the corners of your mouth curling with grins facing Pacific. Dear brother in unfinished cabin letting beard grow wild and toenails break off under spiny flowers which sprawl sand-soil you tread daily leaving no trace. Dear brother with your skin made of light. Dear brother with your heaviest hands thumping your heart awake with all the sudden with now. Dear brother who left in time to be still breathing. I am writing to you from a place where I have let all the sounds go quiet. I am writing to you from a place you have seen me in only briefly when the tides connected and wires were cut from my line so that I could face god in the salt and cry. I am writing to you to tell you I am releasing myself from this world too. It will look different and maybe false but you will understand me when you see me. I am sorry for holding myself accountable. For falling so long. Sorry for climbing the roof of a burning house and dragging you there. Sorry for implanting my fears in your supper. For living on tiptoes while you smacked your heels voraciously in patterns. I am sorry for ignoring your hand reaching out of the dark middle of my chest. Sorry for the nightmares and noises sorry for no candle sorry for the whip for the shitty blankets. I am sorry for blaming your plight on your inability to move through cast-iron water. In some dream place I did what you did. I am there with you among sand-soil weed dunes cabins spiny flowers. In some different world we’ve built something together we have hinged our hearts to our hearts. In my third vision I see you dancing around a fire your body unchained blue like music. I am coming up from the grass with the dirt of the dead in my mouth and ready to sing.
you ate part of the plum
there was a sky
allergies to grass was summer
a storm to the upper right quadrant of the immediate
you are a wall, you said
bad times, kid
whatever that means
usually for me pain
like the low rumbling
your hopes were un-understandable
and me with no plan
you ate the flesh of the plum from the palm of your hand
didn’t seem to mind the relentless sun
Ryan Burgess teaches English, raises a small child, and writes in New Orleans, LA with her partner Peyton. She has work in Xavier Review, Wreck Park, Heron Tree, Cannibal, and Otis Nebula. She's proud of her essay "Ashley and I" being listed as a notable essay in Ariel Levy's Best American Essays 2015. She's currently learning how to breathe underwater.