Iphicles, On His Brother’s Return

by Rebecca Buchanan

the children see him first
at the rise in the road
and run to him
shrieking and giggling
or gaping in awe
his club is over his shoulder
freshly stained
and the lion skin is around his hips
claws and teeth still sharp
my youngest daughter reaches forward
curious
but he gently takes her hand
before she is cut
and throws her across his shoulder
she kicks and laughs
they’re a raucous horde
as they barrel through the door
shouting questions
begging for stories and feats of strength
but he is quiet
my wife welcomes him with a kiss
standing on her toes
he has to bend down
as she shoos and cajoles the children away
i see the ghosts in his eyes
guilt
aloneness
rage
hunger
i take his hand
welcome him home
and
for a time
the ghosts are still
and he can rest

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