LITTLE BROTHER

So many things about you bothered me
In ways of which I could not bring myself to look
Guessing, I suppose, in my naïveté and youth
That to peer directly at such a wounded soul
Would only serve to spread such poison,
Infecting me as well.

Still, sad recurrent secrets, accidentally
Overheard in the fissures of the night
When you’d so often waken screaming,
Wild and terrified
And Mom would rock you and ssh you
And sing nonsense lullabies to try
And soothe you back to sleep
Must have over-flown the banks of your reality

Those dark, purple bruises of your psyche
Likely seeped into mine
Or perhaps, because we grew so very close,
I absorbed your private hell by osmosis

I know only, my own deepest self bears ugly,
Wicked scars, belonging more to you than me
And even after some well-meant but paltry efforts,
The most I had to offer way back when
There was no escaping, not for either one of us.