The brother-in-law

What about him? I lived a normal life,
studying, paying the bills, and writing
sonnets about roses and transcendentalism,
but I remember him, years ago, clinks,
swigs and swooshes, an upper middle
class zero, despite the potential to be
an anti-hero, he knew too much, but saw
too little, under some sickening trance
distorting reason and intelligence,
and when the ex-wife said she
couldn’t handle it anymore, whirlwinds
of bitterness swept him away, more clinks
swigs and swooshes, and then he came home
and looked in the mirror, and I guess that
clichéd stuff works sometimes, saw pouches
under his eyes, a beard that isn’t fashionable,
and realized that he had willingly forgotten
to remember the things that matter,
and so, he cut the long-matted hair,
trimmed the beard, and somehow
used another whirlwind to
fight against the grain, how? I don’t know,
perhaps he wrote about it while he slowly
did it, or things clicked, anyway he met sister
who I never understood, and married her,
I guess they love each other in some
odd, unhealthy way, he doesn’t drink
anymore, he gives me a warm handshake,
looks me in the eye,
but walks with eyes cast down, and
when Timmy and Tommy, and Billy see him,
they don’t care anymore, “He’s drinking alone,
and that’s fine by us!” They say, and when the
old man who lives next door, and loves greeting,
loving and hugging everybody else around watches,
he directs his eyes away and says, “Ha! Hypocrite!”
But I’m learning things when he looks me in the
eye, I’ve realized that beneath something lifeless,
something else lies, I’ve never quite understood it,
it’s not protein shake grit, the guy is no longer 22!
But it’s some uncanny instinct, an absence of life making
him do things, but then again, what do I know,
and I’m not going to pry, like I said, I just write
sonnets about thorns, I mean roses, damn it!

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2018)

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