The first time I opened my eyes during prayer,
the first thing I saw, across the table,
was my brother’s stare, his thin grin,
his thick black eyebrows raised as if to say
what took you so long. Curiosity
is the recognition of ignorance
as a kind of sickness. My brother
broke the agreement he made with my father:
stop skipping church
and you can keep your bedroom door.
We woke Sunday morning to the power drill.
Heaven is a chorus boy. He twirls into the splits. He does not love you. You have some sense your life is working toward him; if you are very good, you might just get him for Christmas. He is a pony with beautiful haunches. He does not love you. If he had a smell, he would smell like blueberry muffins on a Saturday morning. But he has no smell. You do. You smell like an arcade, like burnt popcorn and spilled soda, like metal and ozone and decades-old nicotine. You are windowless yet full of light, every beep and whistle an invitation, every invitation outfitted with a slot for tokens. You are cheap. He is bathed in sunlight, shopping bags in each hand, stomping shirtless down the hallways of the mall with purple-tinted sunglasses and tight white jeans. He stomps right by you. At any moment he may break out in song, fling the bags from his hands and open his arms as if for an embrace. You will never be in that embrace. If you could hold him, you would worry him in your palm like the malachite orb on your dresser. You would peer into his holes and marvel at his glittering imperfections. But he has no holes, he will not admit you. He doesn’t even know what malachite is.