Brittney Scott received her MFA from Hollins University. She is a recipient of the Joy Harjo Prize for Poetry as well as the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2014, Prairie Schooner, The New Republic, Narrative Magazine, and elsewhere. Her fiction has appeared in Quarter After Eight. She teaches creative writing at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond.
In one, my brother’s in the gutter,
literally, face up almost floating along
second street after a hard rain, the clouds
finally clearing, the clean stars directing
traffic, his indelibly dirty palm planted
around a forty, which, in this life,
is all he ever drank.
In another, my brother isn’t wrecked.
He owns a head shop on California’s forgiving coast.
He has a beard, the tattoo of his nickname
retouched to add a vine of morning glories
for his wife, Glory, who watches home movies
of when he, we, were kids. What’s important
is that he isn’t dead in all of them. String Theory
suggests there are unlimited universes
exploding every second on top of each other,
each one different, a single action reversed,
rearranged, vastly, to slightly different.
He still dies in some, in many, but so do I.
He shoots me and then himself,
and we both disperse, keep running
in so many other directions that it doesn’t matter
how bad it hurts. He’s just an asshole
most of the time. I’ve even stopped talking to him,
cut off all communication after he stole my car,
stole my wedding ring for heroin,
whatever he’s done. I have no brother,
I say to my friends at dinner parties.
Which is a privilege given
only to those who have them to disown.
I straighten my high-collared dress,
think of him out there, somewhere,
anywhere, but where this life keeps him now.
I stare out the window at my face half-hidden,
half reflected in the glass and the shifting ring of light
left on at the end of the walk.