Ryan Burgess: You Are A Wall
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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.  

 

MEMORY I

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.