His brown eyes are what strike you first. They have a deep warmth and clarity--like those of a dear lazy dog. A dog that is lazy because of the filled bowls and filled holes. A dear dog that licks fingers that will never become familiar--and still expectantly greets each outstretched palm. He only whines soft in the back of his throat (with his head in his hands) when a pup would howl (with his head held high to heaven). My brother’s brown eyes are what strike you first.

Perhaps I first missed him while sitting on our front porch in his wooden beach chair. Perhaps I missed the dog-yelling.

In humid, mosquito-breeding July.


To see him wrestle with his dog.

They looked like two brothers a generation apart--the oldest considered with initial excitement, the other simply acknowledged as a fortuitous accident--lovingly beating each other. The dog lollying his tongue around at him after having his ears boxed. Then they would embrace for kisses and he would itch his scratch until the dog purred. It wasn’t hate-love. One didn’t want to stand aside and curious about the mess of wrestling affection. It wasn’t brutal or poetic. Just a grown boy and his dog.

Jake is a dumb dog. He won’t fetch or sit or stay. He jumps on hoods of parked cars, tackles female twentysomethings, and slobbers on jeans. He isn’t interested in sticks or balls. He plays with his leash and chases imaginary cats.

Jake digs holes and escapes through the neighbor’s driveway. I walk outside and see him poised, ready to prance his way to the park by way of the right neighbor’s attempt at grass. I open the front door again only to call, “Jake’s out.”

He comes out and stands ten yards away with his hands on his hips.

“Don’t make me come get you, Jake--you’re gonna get it, you stupid dog.” The dog was waiting only for that affectionate plea before coming joyfully, blissfully back to him and the confines of the back yard.

Although we laugh about how dumb Jake is, although we look out the window still chuckling, I know that sitting next to me, looking at trucks parked along the street, he seriously believes that Jake is the smartest, kindest, happiest puppy.

The dumb dog makes me miss him.


You know you’re sweet? You really are. And you look a little like my brother. When I left home, he was already six foot two. Guess it must have been the peanut butter that did it. Everybody thought he was dotty the way he gorged himself on peanut butter. He wasn’t dotty--just sweet and vague and terribly slow.

It wasn’t just peanut butter with him. It was peanut butter and honey. I always chose grape jelly for my sandwiches. He also loved animal crackers. Before he left, it was meat pies with barbeque sauce.

He was born only seventeen months after me—-eleven pounds even. He never seemed small, even when he was shorter, because he and I were always chubby. When we were small we had the baby fat that most little kids carry around—the belly that protrudes into the striped shirt, the chubby knees and elbows. But after babyhood we were self-conscious, even sensitive. We never had to deal with fatty-teasing or comments on self-control, but we felt a need to defend our bodies. “Cup your hands around your belly-button,” he explained once after swimming. We were in the kitchen, barefoot, but dry. His brown hair was sticking in all directions, and the brown eyes were dark and bright in his flushed, freckled face. He was still in his trunks. He cupped the fat within his hands and looked up with “the bagel” bulging out within his palms. Laughing, we tumbled on the floor. The cool slabs of tile on our naked backs and the fat evenly dispersing across our bellies. Clapping our stomachs until they felt flat.

I don’t know what made him tender. He had a hot-flush temper. But I think it was his fondness for food, his love for dogs, his soft bear hugs. He smiled at me sweetly, vaguely before slamming the front door behind him and singing his way to the car.

Fly me to the moon.
Let me play among the stars.
Let me see what June is like on Jupiter and Mars.
In other words, hold my hand.


Perhaps I first missed him while sitting on our front porch in his wooden beach chair. Perhaps I missed the dog-yelling.

The brown eyes are what strike you first. They have a dear lazy dog’s warmth and clarity. He only whines soft in the back of his throat (with his head in his hands) when a man would howl(with his head held high to heaven). His brown eyes are what strike you first.

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