Sibling Rivalry

Open book with yellow leaf inside on a rock in a field

Sibling Rivalry

R.J. Lambert, Faculty, Academic Affairs Faculty

Dusk weaved storm-like
through the trees. My father
set the tent with his father

near a thin mountain clearing
where I practiced throwing
two five-dollar knives

with an angled glance. The squinting
second eye in no way helped
to hit the target—a tree

was struck by lightning years before
& rotted where it once grew,
insects breeding to the core.

My knife spun slow & missed.
My brother’s throws hit soundly,
beating bark away. Every skill

sourced competition then, though in this my incentive was to think
the tree alive & harm it.

I tired quick of what I couldn’t stick
& spared the tree more weak-willed throws.
Birds grew active in the mountain dark,

finding life in that tree’s diseases:
woodpeckers well-repaid
with grubs for tireless tapping,

the sounds I patterned sleep to,
that last-chance fervor of a meal
for night’s other lonely hammerers.


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