Our Brother’s Violence etc.

You ask if I believe in signs

The pantry hidden in our uncle’s basement
was laden with treats
our mother denied us at home.
We’d dig our hands into Lucky Charms,
open packs of fruit snacks & flush wrappers
to hide the sin. My cousin had a closet
I never entered; his curtains were dusty with secrets
& the door locked from the outside.
Ivy enclosed the land around our uncle’s house,
thick enough for him to hide
Easter eggs, dog shit, or his hands. From his house,
our cousin could walk to a pond & yank out blank-eyed trout.
Once we waded up to our ankles in the muck,
cast in our lines while the ducks quacked sarcastic.
Something about the grass, trimmed close like a crew cut,
& the geese, a black & gray cloud by the tree line…
Look, sometimes we just do things, especially as kids,
& it doesn’t mean anything,
like when my cousin did catch a trout at the pond
he threw it back, but the hole from where he pulled the hook
never fully healed,
& when I purposelessly opened a purposefully shut door
the whoosh of air I wouldn’t normally notice
overcame me,
froze all of us children in the terror of that moment
so there was no breaking free.


Our Brother’s Violence

When he was born, a moth hatched
in our brother’s skull.

Our ancestors
scribbled instructions
on the moth’s taut belly
for how often to flutter in his ear
then send its powdered paper wings
tearing across the folds of his mind.

The child he was:
red crayons coloring in circles,
holes in the drywall,
empty sweatshirt sleeves
while he crossed his arms across his bare chest.

Our brother was sane until he wasn’t.
Our brother opened his mouth concave & we welted.
Our brother dealt violence & flew away.


Projected Letters is a literary magazine dedicated to publishing the best new and established writing from around the world.


Emily Light’s poetry can be found in such journals as Inch, Lake Effect, Projected Letters, Into the Void, and others. She teaches English and lives in Boonton with her husband and son.