An Evening with My Brother
You'd think they'd learn by now. You'd think they'd talk to each other,
he says, shaking his head. I sit on my hands, keeping myself quiet,
not saying, They're stink bugs, they can't tell each other not to keep
flying towards the light.
Instead, I lean back on his bed, staring at the ceiling light. By now,
we have memorized their shield-shaped bodies, copper bands
of their antennae, blue-metal depressions of their backs.
They congregate, preaching from the windowsills. They hold a seance
atop the microwave, start a book club on the top shelves, organize
a rally in the pantry, beating their wings in unison.
He has trouble falling asleep, worried that one will fly into his open mouth.
I warm the milk, pour cool water. We count Proth primes, turn on
his white noise machine. None of this works. The stink bugs start a drum circle
on the dresser, distracting us. Let's play the what if game, I suggest.
What if you could write a novel on grains of rice and string them together?
What if there was a mountain with only one side?What if the stink bugs
were secret agents, spying on us while we slept?
We spin new machines and draw altered landscapes until I am out
of words and my brother's breathing evens out. I watch him
from the floor, letting the stink bugs land on my forearms, bent knees.
The lack of light makes them brave, examining my skin. I tip my head
close to them, and whisper secrets of survival in their language,
making thwip thwip sounds with my tongue, like their wings.