Brothers (Paul Hetherington)

They delved in mud under pines needles,
rubbed together like animals,
cupped black pearls of river water
in nail-bitten hands,
drank wind like a tart cordial.
They tasted dirt every Saturday
in scrummaging football games,
forcing the ball forwards
through tackle and pass
towards the skewing posts.
They knew rags of shade,
acrid river flats,
scrags of weed. They picked dessicated birds
from coffins of water, collected maggots in buckets
for the fish they hauled
on twitching hand lines.
They studied moths
while wading in gas-lamped shallows
to entangle prawns
in light and netting.
Under night’s liquid constellations
they were barely shadows.