You can lose your brother to Hell
and still be happy inside your house.
The house has many rooms. You find
elegance in its brown walls and furnishings,
and though the flames that rush past
the window make everything bright inside
with the dozens of doors closed,
you can streak all over and no one
will ever see you. If you had neighbors,
you’d bring out your brown china and crystal,
and bourbon you’d pair with browned
hors d’oeuvres. You’d invite them
over to see your view of the fires
even as they’re envious enough to break in.
You don’t get used to the heat, but you were
born in a hot place, so you tell yourself
you’re suited to the rising temperatures.
You never understood the white sheets
of the bedrooms, why your brother
had opted to sleep. It takes hours
but you manage to fall asleep, being
so still that your dreams take you away
to a mountaintop, a world of greens
and violent and churning blues. In
your house in Hell, there’s a nightstand,
a white picket fence around a porch.
You meet a girl, a brown lamp
with a brown shade, and every moment
of happiness in the house with your eyes open
is one you realize your brother is missing.
Dustin Pearson is the author of Millennial Roost and A Family Is a House. He is a McKnight Doctoral Fellow in Creative Writing at Florida State University. The recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, and The Anderson Center at Tower View, Pearson has served as the editor of Hayden’s Ferry Review and as a Director of the Clemson Literary Festival. He won the Academy of American Poets Katharine C. Turner Prize and the John Mackay Graduate Award. His work appears in Blackbird, Vinyl Poetry, Bennington Review, TriQuarterly, [PANK], Fjords Review, and elsewhere.
“A Dependency” was originally published in TLR: Granary