13 Ways of Looking at My Sister
I was eight when our childhood home
burned to the ground; our family became a jaw
knowing only how to chew.
My only measure of time
was watching puberty darken
your summer hair.
It took ten years to explain your anger.
By then, I could explain the clinking
of paper bags on our fatherīs counter.
Scooping slugs by the mushroom
sidewalk lights, we huddled like twins,
grinning thieves with nickel dreams
I remember our first hug on grandfatherīs table
as he plied the splinter,
sticking like tree root from my foot.
Blood didnīt matter.
You armed yourself against me:
the bitch and the baby.
When I turned eighteen,
I found your rainbow rules
beside the woman in your bed.
I christened myself with a
black dress and gin;
atheist to your agnostic regime.
Mom and you, me and me.
We both growled at our fatherīs shadow,
but only your soul was in it.
I see our father in you: the burn of whiskey
on breath, the cigarette-scented nails,
the pot smoke, and the perfect descending line of your toes.
In my sleep, I steal your blue eyes,
the Irish cream of your skin, the jokes hugged
in your mouth the beauty I cannot name.
We spent years on trial; both guilty, both waiting
for the end. When we die, I hope itīs together,
in the arms of an urn.
Gently, like filling up a bath,
our silence ends despite the distance
of night, and itīs time enough.