Reading The Magic Brothers to My Children

by JJ Chen Henderson

Bristol Town Beach by Kate Salvi
Bristol Town Beach by Kate Salvi

The first magic brother
can hold his breath indefinitely.

The second magic brother
can live for a year without drinking water.

The third magic brother can ask a fish to jump
into the basket he takes home
to his mother.

Here, I get distracted, imagine myself breaking
into an oyster in the Gulf of Mexico, seizing its pearl,
only to watch the pearl turn
into an eye, the white bulging out,
the black petroleum stain on it
a dilated pupil, fixing on me,
as if insisting
I should die first.

Of course I don’t tell my children
any of this—

they only want to be tucked in.