For my brothers
Barefoot, we three boys run through,
the desert playing at war. In our
ragged jeans and bare-chested, brandishing
mesquite branches for rifles, we appear
a lost tribe, fighting the onslaught
of the 20th century and not the modern
army we imagine ourselves to be.
You tumble like the fallen soldier in a film
we saw long ago, but your Wilhelm scream
no special effect. The thorn, three inches –
honed by a millennia of wind and sand,
hardened by the sun – sticks from the sole
of your foot. You hold your ankle. Shock
and tears on your face. We rush to you
and want to pull the thorn. Your body
shakes, and you refuse. You’d rather bear
the pain you know. We fear infections,
the long back stripes of blood poisoning
and say, you can’t go your whole life
with a thorn in the bottom of your foot.
Our small hands tighten and together
we’ll help you endure the unknown.