New verse by Auckland poet Tusiata Avia.
I tell my brother about the boy at school
I make him tickle my back
and every time he stops
I tell him about the boy at school
who can do it
The Best In The World.
My brother and I are Siamese twins
I graft him to me
his pyjama holes to my buttons
and we sleep face to face.
When they try to lift me out
I keep my eyes shut
my mother has to call for help
the surgeon is delayed till morning.
Grandpa comes on Thursdays
when they are at counselling
he watches Dad’s Army.
My brother and I eat pancakes
I tell him how stupid he is
how much I hate him
and how I have hollowed out little caverns
in the pancakes and filled them with ants.
At 7pm on Wednesday night
when the Love Boat is on
they ask me who I think should get the house.
I make my brother an ice-cream sundae
with secret passages for the Resistance to hide in
I fill them with curry and chilli and shoe polish.
My brother goes missing
I check back-yard, front-yard, park, neighbours’
wardrobes, bathroom, toilet, wash house
I know deep down he is dead
and I am a bad person
I even ring my mother at Weight Watchers –
he turns up in the warming cupboard.
My brother doesn’t know what a magistrate is
We go to The Muppet Movie
and then Ice Castles
and then Bambi (again)
my brother eats too many ice castles
and falls asleep.
We walk back to the courthouse
which is by the tearooms
and I eat a custard square.
My brother goes next door
The girlfriend comes round
and won’t go away
and threatens to cut her wrists
with the windows or mayonnaise jars.
I tell my brother to go next door and stay there
I tell the girlfriend to go ahead and kill herself
but first , Get in the taxi, just get in the taxi.
The day we meet our other brother
At Bishopdale shopping mall
we all look the same
but he looks more like our father
and tells us his life is fine
as if we might be robbers
who will break into his house
and remove everything he has.
I take my friend round to my brother’s
I’m nervous about seeing him on my own
but he’s hungover and gentle
and shows us the tiny box of ashes.
His wife gets home with a new jacket
she puts the box back on its stand
So you’ve shown them our son? she says
and rips off all the buttons.