Free Love
By Kevin Brown

We were standing beside home
plate, our neighborhood
game long over, when someone made a joke
about your sister.  Not
yet a teenager, I did not quite catch

the connotation, but I would not have
found it funny if I had.  Rather than taking
offense, you added that it would be better if she took
money instead of giving her body
away for free.  I wondered how you could speak
of your sister this way, wondered
if you recalled when she covered

up the curtains you caught on fire
trying to make French toast two years ago
or when she lied
to your parents to protect you, lied
and told them she had spilled
her drink on the carpet so that your father would not

find out you had let your dog
in the house.  As our conversation was concluding, she
walked through the park, and Mark mumbled
something she heard part of.  Though we laughed as we
helped him to his feet, I was more surprised

by her fortitude than her physical strength, her ability to bear
such things spoken of her on a daily basis, and I wondered
if you would ever remember that one
week last winter when you had pink
eye, when she fed you and read
to you, explained what was on the television you could not
see.  I wondered if you could give her the
forgiveness none of us are due,
but that all of us deserve.