BellaOnline Literary Review
A Whale of a Tale by Kim Rumford


13 Ways of Looking at My Sister

Marj Laydon


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.

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Reader Feedback:
I am very close to my sister. This poem rang true for me straight to the heart.

There is so much love and sadness;it's very powerful.

Wonderful poetry of sisters growing together
through pain and joy.

Last verse has fine metaphor of bath filling
and silence ending, in simile fulfilling.

13 is a lucky number, here.
Enjoyed this intimate admittance into your lives.

Fall Equinox 2011 Table of Contents