My Brother at 3 A.M.

By Natalie Diaz Natalie Diaz
He sat cross-legged, weeping on the steps
when Mom unlocked and opened the front door.
        O God, he said. O God.
                He wants to kill me, Mom.

When Mom unlocked and opened the front door
at 3 a.m., she was in her nightgown, Dad was asleep.
        He wants to kill me, he told her,
                looking over his shoulder.

3 a.m. and in her nightgown, Dad asleep,
What's going on? she asked. Who wants to kill you?
        He looked over his shoulder.
                The devil does. Look at him, over there.

She asked, What are you on? Who wants to kill you?
The sky wasn’t black or blue but the green of a dying night.
        The devil, look at him, over there.
                He pointed to the corner house.

The sky wasn’t black or blue but the dying green of night.
Stars had closed their eyes or sheathed their knives.
        My brother pointed to the corner house.
                His lips flickered with sores.

Stars had closed their eyes or sheathed their knives.
O God, I can see the tail, he said. O God, look.
        Mom winced at the sores on his lips.
                It’s sticking out from behind the house.

O God, see the tail, he said. Look at the goddamned tail.
He sat cross-legged, weeping on the front steps.
        Mom finally saw it, a hellish vision, my brother.
                O God, O God, she said.

Natalie Diaz, “My Brother at 3 A.M.” from When My Brother Was an Aztec. Copyright © 2012 by Natalie Diaz. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

Source: When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012)

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Poet Natalie Diaz

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Living, Health & Illness, The Mind, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Pantoum, Quatrain

 Natalie  Diaz

Biography

Natalie Diaz was born in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian community. She earned a BA from Old Dominion University, where she received a full athletic scholarship. Diaz played professional basketball in Europe and Asia before returning to Old Dominion to earn an MFA. She is the author of the poetry collection When My Brother Was an Aztec (2012), . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Health & Illness, The Mind, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Pantoum, Quatrain

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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