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Charmed Helix
by Burgess Needle

Bamboo pole on shoulder my brother
headed out local kids gawked
   danced from driveways behind
this sorcerer to the Charles where he knew
How to hurl a line
    graceful arc to shimmering
sunfish skins matching
mica-flaked bottom

He spotted the monarch's chrysalis
    grasped how a milkweed diet
kept predators away
What did anyone then know of DNA pieces
    held by phosphate links
Crick had not yet seen
    coiled snakes in a dream
    conceive the charmed helix
My brother learned

dragonflies were different from damsels
how they both fanned summer
    air their orbits physics defying

His vestigial-winged fruit flies swept
    honors at science fairs
Everything in the natural world
    pinned labeled filed
By the slick banks of the mottled water
    we bloodied our hands
tore hooks free

Piercing the clouds to Omega blue
    two hawks spiraled

Sun bleached our hair platinum
    wild curls silken halos forced
    us to tactical retreats of shade
We clutched jam sandwiches with
    worm-stained fingers
afternoons sectioned and graphed
by thrown lines littered dead pike
    water soaked soles

Randomly assembled genes brothers
    aged and moved apart
    continents shifted plates
One dried out in a Sonoran desert

walked along dry river beds trailed
    by caws of hungry ravens

Another remained in place

woodpecker's staccato rhythm
whirring wings defying gravity
his heart raced

Everything discarded
    except bird songs
Stopped eating meat
Enveloped himself in Mozart
    on the third floor home facing
    the Atlantic walked over
    riparian lands seeking
another link to his charmed helix life

In his wife’s embrace the other one dreams
    Time is palpable in a cave
    He sees his brother on the wall

Their hand prints glow by a torch
    His left      the other’s right
    Thumbs touching finally

The mouth of the cave opens to a river
    Standing under a brilliant sun they know
    Their past present and future
Children emerge from the shadows
    Now following both to the water
    Where the fish still shimmer
Dragonflies kiss them each
Over and over and over…

Originally appeared in Red Fez. Now a part of the Every Crow in the Blue Sky collection 

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