when I was young,
my older brother and I shared
He claimed the top,
and so I was delegated to lie below him.
After mom tucked our comforters around us
and shut off the lights,
I would reach up my tiny fist
and knock knock on the sheet of plywood
beneath his mattress.
"What?" he would say,
and I would giggle incessantly,
never revealing the truth that I
was checking to make sure he was still there,
that the darkness and monsters it brought had not
Sometimes, he'd already be asleep,
and my feeble knocking would go
Those nights, I always had bad dreams.
When my baby brother was born,
and out grown his crib,
he slept with his bed in my room,
and we discovered that if we stretched out our fingers
as far as they could reach,
the tips would brush.
We played a game where he passed all his stuffed animals to me
so I could protect them while he slept.
One night, he cried and cried,
I pulled my pillows over my head,
waiting for my parents to come get him.
"Will you do something?" my dad's slumbering voice
thundered from his room down the hall.
My little brother heard it too, and so held out his teddy
At first, I didn't accept it.
He persisted: "Teddy?"
Finally, I took his offering,
and so the conveyer belt of toys began,
until there was barely room in the bed for my body.
But then, my little brother yanked off his blankets,
his little feet pattered along the floor,
and he climbed into bed with me.
That night, my dreams tasted of candy
and the milky scent from his fluffy hair.
Now, an adult,
alone at University,
on these cold winter nights I pull my blankets tight,
and I'll hear the tap tapping of the girl across the wall
settling into bed.
I imagine it's my brothers,
they won't disappear
when the lights do.
And so I sleep like a baby.