Saturday, March 8, 2014

The stick

It’s the staff Moses carried on his way to the Promised Land, the rod St. Patrick used to chase the snakes out of Ireland, my defense against the ‘possum in the basement rafters, an obsolete security system. To me it's a thing of beauty—shoulder high, smoothed by hands over the years, with a lightness that belies its strength. Yet in the eyes of others it simply may be a big stick.

When he was a boy, my little brother Mark had a knack for finding things in the woods—extraordinary things like a motorcycle and ordinary things like the stick. The stick just appeared at our house one day when I was in my teens, and when I got married and moved away, I decided to take it with me. I didn’t ask him if I could take it. Mark was still a kid; he didn’t protest.

It moved with me many times over the years. It has been placed by the front door, in the corner of my bedroom, beside the fireplace. In every house it found a spot where it felt useful and it stayed there, standing watch, protecting me.

Three years ago my little brother Mark was murdered. Even the stick couldn’t have stopped the bullet that was fired point blank into his back. And Mark’s stick stays with me, my connection to my little brother, my defense against a cruel world. It always was and always will be such a special stick.

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