A Victory Sign
by Barbara Ann Smith


My brother Sherman and I approach the forks,
he yanks a coin out of his pocket, flips it,
turns it over on top of his hand--
heads you win, tails you lose--
I stand wide-eyed, open-mouthed,
for three years I've never won,
it's settled, again--

I'll deliver the Daily News
the farther trip over the mountain.
I'm sick of his winnings.
Crack of dawn is running late,
slowed by an overcast wintry day.
I get a close up view of a crooked grin
as he lifts two fingers to form a V,
flashing me a victory sign as we separate.

I'm so mad I could spit.
Again, I have the trip over the bluff,
walking against the wind is harsh.
I take a couple steps; fake a fall--
grab my stomach; get in a fetal position,
falsify a look of despair--

Brother comes running,
I whisper, "Can't make the trip today,
stomach hurts, got to go home."
He stands stiff as an icicle,
like the coldness of the day,
pulls the coin from his pocket,
pitches it as far as he can.







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