Hour Five

Brother Stephen


I loved the boy who tore down my treehouse,

so I didn’t tell him to stop. I just climbed down

and let the destruction happen because

he was drunk, and I was a fatalist

and believed then, as I do now

that all good things must come to an end.


It wasn’t my treehouse. It belonged to the town.

It belonged to the spirit of every teenager

who ever needed a place in an uncut swathe of forest

on unparceled land, to sit and stare quietly

or hide from the crowd in greenleaf peace

or let the crowd hide them.


Before, when days turned early to cold and dark

we found an old fender buried in the ferns

used it as a hearth, gathered sticks and paper,

and built a fire in the treehouse.

Floating faces in the glowing light, sparks flying to heaven

and there was the Boy I Loved laughing

when I griped about how my folks spent my college money.

Yeah, it was kind of funny.


He’s not the one I miss. Looking back

on that crowd around the fire, I see my Brother

from Another Mother, My Best Friend’s Boyfriend, he was the one

who helped me out of the tree as the Boy I Loved ripped it down around me.

He held out his hand, again and again, when love got drunk

and ripped the world down around me.


Last time I saw him , he was in a nest of wires

and bottles and tubes and machines that go “ping!”

Cancer slowed him down long enough for me to catch up to him.

Surprise, A Boy I Loved had just wrecked my world, but I held out my hand this time

asking him please, take it, lean on me, while it all falls down.

So far, he has not taken it.


I was hoping, so hoping, like Hansel and Gretel,

We could find our way out of these woods together.

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