family stories of Allen generally
include the phrase
what was he thinking?
and a trip to the ER

roller skating on the front porch—
he stopped himself with
glass panes of the garage door

prying a jammed piece of gravel—
his fingers crushed in the gears
of the cement mixer

taking the bus home
the day he drove to school

Mom said
good thing he is an excellent student—
if he lands a job with a secretary
he just might make it

and they asked
why are you always defending him?
he seems to take pleasure
in your cousins’ basement torments—
he calls you names like “Fartifer”
builds board game alliances
then betrays you the moment
it no longer suits him

when I was four
Allen held a purple washcloth
firm to the gash in my temple
holding my head in his lap
all the way to the hospital
it’s going to be okay
and it was—
for awhile
it was