I tried to show him things, but he didn't seem to study what I showed him. Usually, he just put whatever I handed him in his mouth. He would try to eat anything. I fed him Tabasco sauce and he yelled. Having a little brother helped me learn to relate to other people. Being a little brother, Snort learned to watch what he put in his mouth.
Grandmother pointed out my brother Perry, my sister Sarah, and my sister Eliza, who stood in the group. I had never seen my brother nor my sisters before; and, though I had sometimes heard of them, and felt a curious interest in them, I really did not understand what they were to me, or I to them. We were brothers and sisters, but what of that? Why should they be attached to me, or I to them? Brothers and sisters were by blood; but slavery had made us strangers. I heard the words brother and sisters, and knew they must mean something; but slavery had robbed these terms of their true meaning.
People talk about the happy quiet that can exist between two loves, but this, too, was great; sitting between his sister and his brother, saying nothing, eating. Before the world existed, before it was populated, and before there were wars and jobs and colleges and movies and clothes and opinions and foreign travel -- before all of these things there had been only one person, Zora, and only one place: a tent in the living room made from chairs and bed-sheets. After a few years, Levi arrived; space was made for him; it was as if he had always been. Looking at them both now, Jerome found himself in their finger joints and neat conch ears, in their long legs and wild curls. He heard himself in their partial lisps caused by puffy tongues vibrating against slightly noticeable buckteeth. He did not consider if or how or why he loved them. They were just love: they were the first evidence he ever had of love, and they would be the last confirmation of love when everything else fell away.
I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be one of so many, to have not just parents and siblings but cousins and aunts and uncles, an entire tribe to claim as your own. Maybe you would feel lost in the crowd. Or sheltered by it. Whatever the case, one things was for sure: like it or not, you'd never be alone.
You see, that's who you are, Joe. All these things. That's the person I know, and through him is the way you'll know me, because connected to all these things are, and for so many of them, I was there. And that's the thing that hurts so much.. You see, you were the only person who knew. Because were there. You were my witness. And you make sense of the fucked-up mess I become every now and then. And I could at least look at you and think, at least he knows why I am the way I am. There reasons. But I can't do that anymore and I feel so lonely.