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J. A. Tyler – Variations of a Brother War ( Lines T

J. A. Tyler

Variations of a Brother War ( Lines Tryptych )


Of Soldiers

Gideon and Miller stand in line but in different lines and wearing different colors on the shoulders where they hold their rifles. Gideon soldiers in line where they sing stars and stripes. Miller lines where the soldiers sing red and white and blue. When they were children Gideon once pushed Miller’s face so long into the bark that his cheeks bled sap. And when they were children Miller stood so heavily on Gideon’s fingers that they wore boot tread as if tattooed. And the trees reach their branches into one another, overlapping, even as these brothers soldier into those lines.


Of Trees

Before the warring, Miller laid on his back and pretended to cup clouds into his hands and then stuff them into his pockets, creating a sky-self within his own self. Gideon spent the time watching fish in the river, trying to grab them with his hands. This is one brother attempting the nearly impossible. This is one brother doing what his heart says. And the clouds are sometimes in the fish and the river is sometimes in the brothers’ pockets. And sometimes the trees make branches in the shape of explosions. And sometimes the brothers, before war, were still brothers.


Of Family

After war, Gideon is a ghost and Miller is a ghost and neither of them exists for Eliza except in the wind. When she hangs the clothes on the line, when she puts the logs in the fire, when she sits on the porch in a rocking chair and waits for the sun to come. If Gideon is night. If Miller is day. Eliza wants for a cloud to burst in her hands, Eliza wants for a fish to swim into her heart. A river bends because it has no choice. This is how it is for brothers at war.


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