Birthright - Ayame Whitfield

Some boys are born to kill each other,

and sometimes brothers are born fighting,

scrabbling to be the first to burst into harsh sunlight,

to cry into the thin air,

to wave blood-slicked fists at a sun-bleached sky.


Your brother will wrestle with an angel.

He was touched by God himself.


The words they give you are eldest and inheritance.

Both are lighter than prophecy,

a feather to the weight of the countless stars.

He looks at you with bright eyes, smiles.

I don't mind if you're the heir. No,

because God chose him.

What is a handful of sand to the father of a nation?


Sometimes, you remember another tale.

Two brothers, a rock,

a deserted field.

Blood on the hands of the firstborn son.

His eyes are dark. Cunning laughter gleams there.

Touched by God.


He was always the clever one. You call his name,

He smiles in the sunlight,

Brown skin gleaming. The air is heavy,

Too hot, like the inside of your mother's oven.

Your hands are still sticky with blood.


I'll trade, he says, as though you cannot see his trickery.


Feel the world shift,

another piece fall into place.

The ending of this story was scribed in the sand long ago,

and your brother's limbs tangled with yours in your mother's womb.

The elder shall serve the younger.


(Touched by God. You can hunt a deer,

bring her down with a single arrow,

so when you reach her side, her eyes have already glazed over.

This is something else.

You cannot shoot at destiny.)


Your inheritance, brother.