Invocation of My Demon Brother
Most times, my demon brother appears in a letterman jacket, magnificent in his quarterback disguise, the sleeves ivory white leather, and the rest of it deep crimson. He kneels down to me, drunk and dazed beneath the coffee table, and puts his hand on my shoulder. I begin to sob uncontrollably, for he has been exiled from paradise repeatedly, and here I am earthbound and whole.
My demon brother intercedes repeatedly and I regard his presence as an exhalation. Dogs are drawn to him, as our parents are drawn to him, and, when seeing him during all of the times I am presented with all of the things I cannot do, my body goes limp inside automatically, undetectably, for my demon brother will care for everything, and, most of all, me. Our parents are obsessed with his exploits, activities that loom so large that my own minute life is completely eclipsed, and, in that shadowy anonymity, I am free.
My demon brother knows all of the evils of man and woman, cares nothing for humanity. The glee in his eyes is for me alone, an eternal warmth for me alone. Through an error in divine programming he exists with no practical knowledge of brotherhood, and thus is supremely equipped for brotherhood with me, he the terrible beast sitting at the edge of my bed when I am incapacitated by grief or aloneness, holding my hand within his flickering hand to claw to hand to claw, though only I can see that frenetic oscillation. Which is his true form? The claw perhaps, but I will never know.
His understanding of my personal relationships is terrible and far-reaching, he knows who in the world belongs to me, and who in the world I best belong to, but his own love is so abyssal and kind, he reveals nothing to me. Perhaps these women are already dead, or have been incarnated as men I will never feel a genetic attraction to. Perhaps I have passed them all by accidentally, or perhaps I will have no time in life to meet any of them. Perhaps I have already wasted unregainable incarcerated years on those incapable of loving me, perhaps I have exhausted all of the love of those who did. He reveals nothing, concedes nothing, allows me to continue to hope, strokes my hair as I am curled in my bed, the embryo of love I am capable of continally gestating within me within this fetal posture, forever waiting to be hatched.
During the holidays, my demon brother appears as a woman, the elder sister I craved as a boy. She has crafted four clay facsimiles of ourselves and transported them to our parents’ houses and certain former lovers’ lives, where they are puppeteered somewhere deep within her mind to the satisfaction of all who still subtly possess us both. She is dressed in a floral banyan, her long brown hair far down her back in a plait, impersonating our false Polish origins. We board her radiant balloon and spend New Year’s Eve gliding over pine forests far north, eating delicate pastries, dabbing the corners of our mouths with linen napkins, sipping heavy wine from an inexhaustable skin. We tell each other the secrets from the year just past and I am alarmed to know the private doings of my demon sister, as I am every year. She is visibly relieved when our secrets are exhausted. From time to time our low whispers are lost in the wind.
When the world feels unsatisfactory, I can feel him beside me, bidding me to lower my expectations, advising me to remain patient, for this is just a brief pageant that we are performing for now. After all of the thin flesh wounds and dark purple bruises, all the insults and lies, all of the places I did not have the strength to go, and, most of all, the people who could not help but hurt us (for hell and earth are subtle reflections of each other), after everything, we are still standing, even if sometimes only our two crooked forms in unison hold each other erect. He has already traveled to all of the places I will go to prepare my way, he has ensured that all of the people I will meet will last in my life long enough to tell me something critical to know at the moment of my death. He is the clearer of the way, a single channel of obliterating fire passing forward through time, decade after decade, so that the path I leave behind me resembles a delicate carpet of flowers and grasses, so that my passage through this world releases a bit more oxygen than the atmosphere held before.
And on my death bed, my gnarled and tiny body, filling hardly any of the bed at all, he is there, always. He is young as ever, beautiful as ever, and holding a mirror up to my face. I see my own skin as I remember it, before time drew all moisture and oil of youth from me, and then my parents, many years gone, and then my grandparents, even more years gone, and then my lovers, all gone, and then my children, who will never know the void as I have known it, then all of the animals who loved me unconditionally, and then I see my demon brother in the mirror, his glassy black eyes growing ever larger, his job never done, and in his low laughter I detect another world beckoning, and a single bright channel of fire ahead of me, lighting the way, the endless labyrinth of lives ahead, and I exhale again.
9 November 2014