One afternoon when I was ten
and almost home from school,
I glanced up at the second-story window
of a house on my block
to see the acned older brother
of one of my friends.
He had tapped, then knocked
so I’d see him framed there,
the blinds lifted, the sun
a spotlight on his nakedness.

He laughed at me. But stopped
when I did not look away, his
not the first male body I’d seen.
I had diapered my brother, helped
my father to the bathroom
after his surgery. What,
I wondered, was the big deal?

Ten years later I heard
he hanged himself, and I cried.
But it was the way that day
he stared back, the way
his laughter so clearly changed
to anger when I didn’t scream
or run away.

Today I watched a scorpion
skate across the two-lane
so quickly I didn’t have to swerve.
Last week after the rain storm,
a copperhead slid into the woods
in front of me during my daily run.

O, creatures I’ve been taught
to fear, what am I supposed
to learn from you?





hollanderAndrea Hollander moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2011, after decades in the Arkansas Ozarks, where she ran a bed & breakfast and served as Writer-in-Residence at Lyon College for twenty-two years. Her awards include the Vern Rutsala Award, an Oregon Literary Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, and two fellowships from the NEA. Her fifth full-length poetry collection, Blue Mistaken for Sky, was just released. Her fourth was an Oregon Book Award finalist; her first won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize.