Debra Marquart



BEATING UP THE BROTHER


Because he was a single stalk
of sweet corn in a prairie
of sisters, because we were seven,

nine, eleven, and twelve, and he
was only ten—the middle one,
the fulcrum our farm rested on.

Because he was too cute
and wore short pants, little hand
in the cookie jar, little shrug

and grin. Because his buzz cut
felt like a freshly mowed lawn
when we drove our hands

over it, because Mom and Dad
left us alone on Saturday nights
to watch the Ed Sullivan show and

the Miss America Pageant, because
no beauty from Dakota ever won,
or advanced to the final round

of ten, because we were a gaggle
of girls, expected to fly away,
and he would stay to plow

the land after we were gone.
Because he was the only boy,
sweet-natured and forgiving

as Jesus under our fists, because
he was the brother, had that part
we thought of as extra, that part

we had never seen but knew existed.