My brother loves his salamanders, his newts, his gobies, his turtles, his snakes. He shines
the flashlight at the hole to make sure I see the wet black frog-like head burrowed
inside and through the love in his voice for them, I love them too.
This is the social one, he tells me. There’s the fat one, he points, and I see it
through the side of the aquarium, folded over itself, yellow spots glowing.
This one likes me to stroke his head.
This one is always
This one was making a lawn—see how green it is there?
He feeds them ticks and brine shrimp with a tweezer.
He takes apart everything electrical, gets a dead engine going, grows blue lotus
from seed, avocado, desert rose, a bonsai for the garter snake to rest on.
He makes the darkest, quietest caves, hooking up a tiny fan
to the laptop he rescued
from the dump and fixed.
The room smells warm, of ferret, living things in small spaces. Now
there’s a pink scar carved in the bridge
of his nose. I hate to
—but I do—
imagine the cop’s
fist, in leather glove
with wedding ring, as it cracks
my baby brother’s skull, as it pounds
his crystal skin.