My brother says Birmingham is the ass end of everything.
He whacks a tree branch against the side of his leg
while we wait outside the church reception hall.

His new bride is inside, dancing with her fat and white-haired father.
She has brown skin that shines against the white of her dress.
Her father is talking loud over the music and letting her lead.

My brother goes to AA ever since he met this girl.
He thinks he can handle it on his own,
but stops by my place for a beer after his meetings.

We’ve lived in Birmingham since Daddy brought us here
in the late 70s. We dragged up and down Mitchell Street
in the Bonneville we bought together in high school.

As I watch his wife inside I think about how I kissed her
more than a dozen times when we were all kids together.
I remember she used to wear cherry lip gloss.

My brother says Birmingham can suck it right out of you.
That Birmingham killed Daddy, and that Birmingham
is going to kill us, too.

He says it like Birmingham is this thing.
He drops the tree branch and he grabs the beer in my hand.
Just a sip, he says. Then I’m going back in there.

Pfefferle, W.T. “Birmingham,” New Orleans Review 30:2 (2004): 79. Pushcart Prize nominee.