by Jacob Nantz
I absorbed the shock in my chest
the first time my brother hit my fastball.
Ball in fist, I chased him down with an arm winged
skyward, a threat to strike. He rounded first,
having already overcome my best effort, confident
and twitching toward second, then back to first
with a smirk. My chest swelled, spewed anger
to my hands and sent the ball at his body. I missed
by a mile, scattered a murder of crows, rearranged
their seats in our evergreen above the garden
they terrorized, where they undid our mother’s work.
My brother laughed around the bases until I caught him,
pinned him down and took fistfuls of his shirt.
The neighbor kid taunted my brother as he lay there,
helpless. A stranger’s mobbing is an unwelcome pest,
uninvited and overstepped, so I released my kin
and we chased that kid until mother’s voice drowned
the scowling caws from the trees, tempered the fight.
We landed on our stoop, eyes tucked between our legs.
The younger boys looked to the destroyed yard behind me,
upturned, and then to me, hands descending to pockets
as if to search for something only I could find, an answer
within me, maybe, when mother asked where did this all start?
Jacob Nantz is a poet and essayist. He holds an MA in Poetry from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and a full list of his publications can be found at https://www.jacobnantz.com/poems. Born and raised in the Chicago area, he currently lives and writes in Northern Virginia.