After he turned blue and foamed at the mouth
in the grandest of grand mal siezures on the floor of his day program,
something left my brother, something that raged insomniac and kinetic
through him like a current, for a twice daily dose of Dilantin.
After the hospital and renal tests, the potassium
drip and straight-jacketed screaming CAT scans, those capsules
slowly dissolved into his blood, I saw something faintly
flicker across his face, something like confusion,
a sense of self shaken loose.
I’m probably the only one in the whole world
who actually remembers the year he adopted his finest
all-occasion echolaliac phrase, “Do you have to go the bathroom?”
He did not discriminate.
In top volume, in broadening thirteen year-old lungs, he asked
the nice old couple in the booth behind us at Denny’s,
the prematurely greying beat cop in the galleria plaza,
the suburban Barnes and Noble writer series reader,
the community college Kantian academic,
and my driver’s education teacher:
“Do you have to go to the bathroom?”
Or his opera phase, his Olympian built body that bronzed in the summers
singing, unashamedly naked, drawing concentric circles in his
notebooks so tight they turned blue ink black.
Or the year he discovered the videotape over and over again,
and the joys of watching National Geographic backward:
grizzly bears puking up wriggling salmon and setting them gently in the water,
baby sharks swimming gracefully back into their mothers.