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I am remembering the day my older
brother became a force to reckon with.

Tall, clumsy, goofy, and a little slow
in more than just one way, he was a prime

target for every bully in our school,
which was quite inexplicable to me.

Because, routinely, he boxed me around,
outwitted me in every game or challenge,

intimidated me with just a look,
and was the darling of the cousins in

a family blessed with many. He did not
do well in school and yet it didn’t seem

to bother him. He must have felt somehow
that one day not long hence his moment would 

arrive, and then all would be mostly well.
Events would prove him right, as it turned out.

We are across the street from our house, in
the field where all the kids play ball. This time

it is just he and I, and we are hitting
pop-ups to each other. Harmless as

could be. I see the bullies coming toward
us at the far end of the field, and say

We might just want to wrap it up. My brother,
ever the optimist, replies, Let’s stay.

Soon, bully one demands a turn at bat,
and grabs it in my brother’s hands. But he

refuses to let go. One quick head shot 
and he goes down, the bat still in his hands,

the bully sitting straddled on him, flailing
away. I start to cry, when suddenly 

the screen door on our home slams open with
a BAM, and Dad steps out onto the porch.

Get up, he shouts. Get up and kick his ass!
At which, my brother throws the bully off,

springs to his feet, and slugs away with all
his years of pent-up rage and undiscovered 

prowess, until the blood is flying and 
the bullies flee. They never bothered him

again. My brother then went on to be
successful in ‘most everything he tried.

Sports, drama, academics, social life, 
and later marriage, business, family –

he shone in all of these and more. That day
a word from Dad changed everything. And I

still marvel at the power contained within
a Father’s voice. If only we will hear.

Photo by Jørgen Håland on Unsplash

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is Principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe  and producer of The InVerse Theology Project. His poetry has appeared in a wide range of journals including The FormalistBooks & Culture, and Windhover. He is the author of more than forty books, including seven books of verse. He and his wife and editor, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.