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To My Brother Concerned About His Age

                                    Gregory Fraser

Because you reproached a younger man last night
for being foolish, not respecting foolishness
as the sacred province of younger men,

and because this disrespect of yours
turned you, for a moment, back into one
of those naïve clowns, though you are old now

and better able to judge, I have come to point out
the thicket of stars, and the fox-eyed planets
hiding there in plain view, because you chewed

and swallowed and spoke out of turn,
instead of savoring the wafer of hesitation
on your tongue, I have traveled streets full

of cavities and loose fillings to show you
the hickories opening their shutters
to throw stones at passersby. The moon

has called it quits for the day, and stopped shooting
its documentary film, Blue Stone. The spider
is tired of plucking its carnivorous harp,

but because you shamed a younger man in front
of his new wife, because you moved his face
to a place beyond worry, I have abandoned

the stunned palm in the corner of my office,
with its dark green shock of hair, to remind you
of the continental shelves grinding their teeth

in ocean depths, and of the shoebox
full of shadows we discovered one summer
afternoon, you and I, in attic dust.

Among those shuffled images stood
not the yellow-haired girl of your dreams
who never said no, but the bloated, blue-faced one

of your nightmares—remember her?—rising from silt
with arms outstretched to draw you below. You,
a much younger man then, and a patent fool.

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