For Sons of Joseph

Manasseh

Loses his keys every morning

Spills his coffee on wrinkled

Button downs with novelty ties

Leaves the door unlocked

And the oven on just long enough

For the smoke alarm to notice

Causes his mother to panic

Hears her tell him it’s Nephthys

Taking him away slowly

Pulls out of the driveway with no seatbelt

Leaves file folders on the roof of his car

Watches them scatter on the unmowed lawn

Tries to write down his dreams

To show his father

Wakes up in a cold sweat to find him

Pacing and shaking in the dim hallway

Gets on his hands and knees

Puts his hand on his father’s back

Prays and his mind is blank

Goes back to sleep and dreams of nothing

Wakes up with one sock on

Can’t find the other but it’ll turn up

Eventually at the foot of his bed

Doesn’t wait for his brother

To offer to make him breakfast

Turns on the coffee pot

Before adding the grounds

Ephraim

Wakes up and waters his houseplants

With crust in the corners of his eyes

Cracks eggs for omelets

Makes spinach and cheese for his mother

Ham and peppers for his father

Would make coffee for his brother but

It’s already been made

Goes to the grocery store in a tattered band tee

His father’s old colored robe

Flip-flops his way to the produce aisle

Examines every cantaloupe in the box

Like his grandfather taught him

Fills his cart with everything labeled organic

Realizes he can’t afford it all and puts half back

Comes home and two shopping bags

Break in the foyer and fruits

Roll around on the unswept floor

In front of his father

Gets on his hands and knees

Takes an apple from his father’s hand

Prays and his thoughts are overgrown

Picks up a dented milk carton

Places it on the top shelf of the fridge

Next to the expired orange juice

Hears his brother walk in cursing

Teases him from one room over

Regrets it when he hears him shout back

About how he’s not the favorite

Hears their mother

Yell about angering Ma’at

Shuts his mouth as the door slams

Slices up the cantaloupe and eats it in his room

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