The Brothers Grinn
I am the age my father was
when he scaled fire escapes in downtown Decatur:
Melpomene with a paintball gun,
Comedy four feet in front.
Evil fears two boys in black.
I wonder what would happen,
what I could have learned,
if I had climbed to the cemented roof
where the brothers earned an asterisk
and Thalia could smile as herself.
But the city has grown bars since 1989.
Handholds live on behind vulgar tags.
Maybe I would have found my way up
if I could see through memories and not eyes.
Still, I am grounded.
A quarter century, though,
and I can still see why this Midwest Gotham
would wink and call them vigilantes,
their history pressed into cinema walls.
The Millikin ghosts live on.
Let me greet you twice—
Once as a lover, our circuit-bound hearts
both pumping kindergarten crayon love.
(Franklin had a coin’s-flip chance,
but that’s just not how current flows.)
And meet me again
after the knife’s halting serration
becomes a seamless glide.
Let me hold you twice—
Once as an offering to an uninvited guest
who grips, vice-like, its anchorage
but leaves saline blood on chains
keeping it tethered.
A second embrace
to seal the unspent promise, unbelieved
that you won’t learn to hate the sea.
Let me know you twice—
Once within this halfway-place
where things exist only when perceived,
as I pray to no one that by now
the cipher seems consistent.
Finally, to thank you
if my Helium hope comes to pass
where I learn to live alone.
Delenn Jadzia is a musician and writer. They released their debut album A Mad Experiment in Living in 2022 following previous releases of science-fiction novels.