Psychopomp Magazine Fall 2014 - Page 38

Adam McAlpine Clark

Pinewood Refrain

My brother first came to inhabit my head the day he died. That was four days ago and people have found my composure in the matter unnerving.

We were born thirteen minutes apart into the morning of a Sunday. We were perfect replicas, each a copy of the other. In the beginning, there had been a third but he disappeared into the walls of the womb while little more than a faint, red beat.

As children, we were indistinguishable from one another. We harbored no differences. On our eleventh birthday we received a pair of knives and sharpened a length of pine from the woods. Out in the woods, it was accidentally driven into my left eye, leaving the iris a violet amoeboid shape. That was our first distinction.

When we returned from the hospital that night our parents put me in the guest room to avoid infection, frightening us with a story of another boy and an old man removing a patch from over his eye each night, placing it on the bedside table.

Falling asleep that first night back, I could hear him moving around out in the hallway, back and forth in the dark. I was half asleep when I saw his body curled up by the door; his blond curls stood out white in the dark hall. I fell asleep like that.

In the morning I asked Mason about that and he started looking the way he did when we shared a secret. He told me the same story, how I'd slept there curled up like a good animal at our door, how he didn't move.

We were quiet as our mother made us breakfast, looked at one another over cereal. I remember the sounds of my mother’s hands in the sink, the clinking of our spoons upon the bowls, the clinking of her rings against a plate. As I remember these things, I can hear Mason roll over half asleep behind some fold of my mind; there is a sigh. In his dreaming, I can feel occasional echoes of sensations. The smell of pine, sap sticking to fingers.

38 | Psychopomp Magazine