Hatred Season

I knew a man who was a brother to another man. As brothers they were known for the dry soup they carried in their pockets. They were known for the anxieties of their parents.

This brother bore a birthmark on his neck in the shape of a hammer's iron head. His walk was sparrowlike and his thoughts swirled like paper beads under his breeze-filled hair. I touched his ear while he slept, once. It was warm, hairless.

I spent time with him in a humid dormitory where we shared deli meats and paperback books. On sunday mornings, he left me voice mails distorted by the volume of his screaming. Upon learning of the recklessness with which I tended to my laundry, he scolded me softly, explained the importance of garment care, and asked if I would allow him to take it upon himself. I answered no, and he asked if he might teach me. I answered no, but said I might allow him to be the steward of my clothing in exchange for me dispatching one of his own chores. This was how I came to transcribe his dictated letters to his family at home.

When I saw him last, he was wearing his suit, on the roof.