Issue Forty-Two - Summer 2023

Latch Key for Boys

By B. J. Wilson

I told my brother that the BB I was going to fire

at him, from our second story window, wouldn’t hurt,

that his layers would protect him from the sting.

And I imagine him, now, walking into drizzle,

a desperate wonder wrapped around him

like a raincoat: my little brother waiting to get shot

like waiting to get struck—his forearms blocking

my fists before he started punching back

with his own. It pierced his jacket, burnt straight through

the nylon into his shoulder. And when he knelt down

to cry under the trees, I went to him: raindrops

roll off the oak leaves above us, the pattering

beside us, mud dark as the twilight grown darker.

Out of the black, flooded backyard, we examine the welt.

I was trying to conceal wounds like these, other kinds,

before Dad came home in a suit, with a belt,

he said, one Christmas, he only had to use on me.

Copyright 2023 Wilson