My brother is decorating a kitchen wall in his small apartment
with a photo of the kids he doesn’t get to see, three boys

sitting in a row, smiling, a fake sunset glowing behind them. His GED
certificate. Quotes like “Something alive remains. And what is kept, well kept

inside, needs only this silence to complete it.” The Twelve Steps typed out
to remind him every day that he’s back on the first rung. An AA chip

for that one year of sobriety that ended when he walked into a bar five weeks ago,
sorrows hanging on him like old friends — a one-month binge and no memory

of it. So now he’s back on what he calls the slow boat to sobriety. He rides
a wobbly bike to meetings and still hears from Snake and J.D.

at the Finish Line, who call him after downing a couple of shots, saying,
Hey, asshole, come back home. With tape and paper he is rebuilding his life

once more, pressing each taped word to the wall, desperately trying
to keep every letter straight, determined, this time, to make them stick.