175. Fourth of July: Home

Mighty dry:
On his path back,
Barker’s weightless
Tread had still raised
Dust. He’d got home
Late, and found his
Brothers, sisters,
In a heap, all
Sleeping. Barker
Burrowed in.
From afar they’d
Seen the Roman candles,
And they slumbered
Deeply, gratified.

Passing his hands
Body over body,
Barker searched for
Markie. There he was–
By himself and
Balled up roly-poly.
One thumb lightly,
Barker touched Mark’s
Face: tears. Awake.
Since his sickness, when
The medicine’d run out,
It seemed Markie
Couldn’t hear so good.
Ma was slow to
Catch on–but he,
Barker, saw that
Yelling wasn’t
Loud enough no more.

Last year Tansy
Had taught Mark his letters,
And the spelling
Of some words: Cat,
Cow. Now Barker
Knew the coming job
Was up to him: man
Of the house.

He lay closer,
Prying Mark’s fist
Loose. First
Fingerspell. Then signs.

A, B, C. He
Spelled into Mark’s
Palm: A, B, C.
Spell back! He poked
Markie. Then that
Stubby hesitating
Hand, in his:
S, B, C.
Almost! Start
Again!

Teaching was so
Slow. So Barker
Daydreamed while he
Taught, the bright
Sky-streamers playing
Lights, holding
His mind. Best was
That last,
The golden one!

That night,
Before they had
Finished, one more
Hour would go
By. When Markie
Slept, now peacefully, they’d
Made it
To the letter
G.

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