Castle Hawk

by Brian Edwards
The Poets' Graves
Second Place, June 2009
Judged by Duncan Mercredi

“And from our opposite continents we wave and call.
Everything has happened.” —– Sylvia Plath, “The Babysitters”

Over a decade since we played at Castle Hawk.
Rain lashed down all day, from tee to bunker
   to nineteenth hole
But we wore tee-shirts and hauled those clubs round
   where we didn’t belong.
Watching the tweed and stripes, your eye for mischief
   broke the clouds.
Cruel brother, you could skin fish with that tongue.
In jeans at the oak-beamed clubhouse bar
   too short, too loud,
You filled the room.

Drinking drinking, a one bedroom flat, football on the radio,
   Nietzsche on our minds.
You couldn’t cook but your cupboards always offered
A sandwich, an orange, a place to hide from lovers and life.
Windows open wide to rile the curtain twitchers next door,
   beating walls down with disapproval,
And when the police came you were first outside fighting
   truncheons with common sense,
And when your love-heart tattoo came out like a tomato
   you gave it a nickname, wore short sleeves for a year,
And when you woke up in the wrong bed swearing
   never again, never again,
It was just a story to tell.

My brother, before I left you at the nighteenth hole
   with a bourbon and coke and a bar tab,
Before I traded you in for a continent and a collection
   of books,
Before divorce scrawled your lipsticked name
   on a mirror,
Before divorce put a fist through your glass
Before divorce poked vipers through the window
   of your skull,
Before divorce put your liver in a glass, covered
   in weeds,
Before you tried to cut off your arm,
   tried to eat off that one word,
   her name, five letters, ingrowing,
We were two brothers in tee-shirts,
   waiting for something to happen.

What can I say, I have a weakness with anything to do with golf and family. But truth be told, I'm not a golfer, but I go golfing. It's you against the course and in some cases against your brother, that never ending battle on who's the best. But underlying is the love you feel for him, the battles, the pain, the tears, the laughter, it's all here. I identify with the wild one, the one that refused to back down forcing the quiet brother to come out of his shell and join me on this fantastic journey that is life. Golf, beer, (in my case, never did acquire a taste for hard liquor) and in my much younger days, some green to smoke. This piece has all this and more. It struck a chord and I kept returning to it even after I put it aside, a sign of good work. --Duncan Mercredi