I cannot bear the responsibility
for my brother’s pain, separated
as he was from my mother, raised
in his own kind of hell, estranged;
could not save him from himself
even if I tied him to me, carried
him by my side, bore his shame,
supported him by finding work.
I would just be trying to resurrect
old dreams, choosing to follow
already trodden paths, repeating
patterns of partnering with failure;
stir up memories of abuse, relive
the discomfort, castigate myself
anew for not asserting propriety,
contemplate revisiting the old.
No, I am not my brother’s keeper;
cannot right what has been lost;
only in looking forward can we
hope to bridge our familial ties.