My brother was ten years older than I was. He went away to school, and then to jail; he became a far right reactionary, and through it all he drank. But there was a time, while our mother was still alive, when no one loved the world as much as my brother did. The farmhouse was a zoo. Snakes my brother caught at the well, frogs from the pond; an injured owl lived in his bedroom closet.
Nothing compared to the day he walked down the hill to the house, shouting out my name, calling me to come and see. My mother saw. "God, be careful" and even my father was amazed. I was allowed to look and, with one careful finger, to stroke the wet fur. My brother was famous forever after as the boy who stuck his hand in the pond and pulled out a beaver.