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My brother climbs walls. Some are made of fake rock matter, lit by fluorescent bulbs high above in a room of smelly vertical endeavorers. But the real walls are geographic strata spanning millenia, placed by glacial moving trucks. He hugs the rough stones with every piece of his body, from the tips of his toes to his right hip bone to the very front of his shoulder, the part that could almost be mistaken for chest.
He is a master breather. We ran together once — the only full mile I have ever effectually kept a pave of at least 200 steps per minute. When we were finished – when I was finished and curled my body into a half moon, trying to wring out my burning insides, he pulled my shoulders up, my hands above my head, and proceeded to lecture me on the importance of lung control and self-discipline. It was lucky for him I had no lung control at that moment in time, or I would have berated him on the fact he ever convinced me to take a little jogging trip in the first place.
My brother has always been the most disciplined individual I know, but it has escalated in intensity over the past ten months. It’s difficult to believe it has nearly been a year since he made his home in Knoxville, Tennessee. 2011 has almost done the whole lot of us in, anchoring us deeper and deeper down a manhole. I visit my parents house and a heavy weight slowly covers my body like a cloak.
We tire of one another easily and can only be together in short bursts. It’s strange that way, only because the deep affection we have for one another has only grown stronger over the last thirteen years, the length of time which death has ridden our coattails.
My brother climbs walls for forgiveness. He asks his body to forgive, he asks the Earth not to forget. He can feel the layers beneath his clothes, the eras of mountain ranges who’ve been birthed from underground rumblings. As he becomes one with the wall, he breathes his sorrows into her ear, and thinks of the day he will fall,
back to her.