Not Too Old Or Too Late To Pick Bones

by Philip F De Pinto

And so you were my older brother
And I your younger
I was five and you eight
And it was 1952
And we were quarreling
In our living room
Over God knows what

But you older brother lacking
Patience pushed my five
Year old body with the might
Of an eight year old
And I tumbled backwards like timber
Splitting my five year old head
On the very sharp edge
Of a hundred year old bureau

And so I was outraged
As would anyone be seeing their blood
For the first time
And would have my vendetta
And so I got up and rallied my five year old body
To rush and push your eight year old back
Only to find that the disparity
In our ages and weights
Would not allow it
Such being physics

And so I failed to move you
And as we grew
We'd always have that disparity
To contend between us
And even though we are no longer quarreling
And you older brother are no longer pushing
Your younger brother
Still the memory clings
And I am still tumbling backwards like timber
Ever splitting my head
On that bureau

As if it was still 1952
And you are eight
And I am five
And our younger brother three
And our mother 34
Our father 37
The all of which add up to 84

Whatever the significance
Of that number
I'm seventeen years
Younger than that number now
And you fourteen
And our younger brother

And our mother still clinging to life
God bless her
Surpassed that number
By twelve years
84 - which our father
God rest his soul never made
Stopping nine years short
Ceasing to exist in 1990
Aged seventy five

And even though things
Add up older brother
Still we are being
Subtracted from our lives
At ever widening clips
Until we'll have no numbers
In us with which to figure

Still it adds up
That you're still my older brother
And I your younger
And no subsequent subtraction
Could ever minimize the fact
That I still love you
Even though your initiating something in 1952
Has me still tumbling in arrears
Like timber

Such as the memory
Will never fade
Till we are both
Landed on something duller
Yet much much older
Than that bureau
Resting and abiding
In the shade


Author's Note: For my brother Guy/Gaetano

Posted on 10/06/2014
Copyright © 2023 Philip F De Pinto

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by George Hoerner on 10/06/14 at 04:34 PM

A wonderful rendition of a "happening" in your family life that has carried so far into yours. So the details are there and yet so much more of a family feeling which carries through out the whole piece.

Posted by Chris Sorrenti on 10/06/14 at 07:00 PM

Captivating combination of nostalgia and numerology, Philip. There's three years between my brother and me also, although I the older. We got into some nasty fist fights in our earlier years, but have risen above them in our middle age and wisdom.

Posted by Clara Mae Gregory on 10/07/14 at 01:51 PM

love this *stellar* piece [priceless for posterity]

Posted by Sam Roberts on 10/09/14 at 12:44 PM

ahhh dude! This is genius! I was completely captivated from start to finish. I think everyone can relate to this, which is why it is so damn brilliant! That's going in my favourites! The 4th stanza rings true for me and my sister. I am the youngest and there is ALWAYS that obvious gap...where they experience things wishing you were their age etc. Hehe, brought back some good memories. I like how you linked t with your feelings of today, the onward march of age. Clever :) xxx

Posted by June Labyzon on 10/10/14 at 04:58 PM

I have a similar story when I was 4 and my younger brother barely 1 1/2 and he waddled into the living room of the cold water railroad flat on 26th and central in union city and hit me on the head drawing blood. Years later he said it was revenge for my tipping over the bassinet on the day he was brought home from the hospital. And he at 63 and me at 68, he still has the upper hand (still with the spoon in it). Love the story, an what it brought forth for me, as well.

Posted by Coleman Demiurge on 10/22/14 at 03:35 PM

Wow, this piece is very impressive. I have three siblings of my own: 2 brothers and a sister. The oldest is ten years younger than me, so I'm pleased to say that I've never gone fist to fist with any of them. Nevertheless, they often looked to me for guidance or some kind of wisdom... and that was a burden my teenage-self did not want at the time, and I regret that now that I'm older. In other words, I identify with your elder: - if his case is anything like mine, that day in 1952 haunts him more than it haunts you. Anyway, end of introspection! Exceptional work, Philip. Well done indeed. ;)

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