Sestina for Somebody's Sister
And tonight you feel as though everything is too big, and the world
might even be flat or square or like a cube with six sides. Your skirt
for spring is too large for your hips, your flat backside. You'll grow
into it now, says your mother softly. Your father frowns and watches
your mother sip and swirl another glass of wine like blood, almost
that sweet red, smelling ripe. In your room, you press on that space
between your legs. This is where you feel most empty, the space
where you haven't yet blossomed, unlike her. She knows the world,
your big sister. She wears red lipstick and is terribly mature, almost
an adult, with a boyfriend who smokes. Once you found her skirt
on a chair, swinging softly, a bird's abandoned wing. You watched
her and a dark boy on the couch, naked; spring grass was growing.
Later you sit on spongy soil and wait for your buried bulbs to grow,
bulbs you planted last fall with your sister who showed you to space
them just right in that perfect row, a neat little garden row. Watching
dirt that looks like ashes, you want more than anything in the world
to know that sister again. Clouds gather the sun like one spring skirt;
from the corner of your eye you think you see green, maybe, almost.
You want to touch her, your sister, and you can fit your fingers almost
around her porcelain arm. She's only bones now, limbs refusing to grow.
You are silent as she passes a spoon between her delicate lips; the skirt
of the tablecloth resting on her pale thighs. There is a wavering space
between you. Remember a time when her cheeks flushed, hair whirled
about her head in a cloud of deep red? A time before you hid to watch
her when she arrived home hours past your bedtime, took off her watch
carefully, locked herself in the bathroom to vomit quietly. It's almost
spring; your sister's nose bleeds as she sucks on apple seeds. The world
rises from a long sleep, brushes away the cover of snow. Things grow
and bulbs begin to show their pale faces through the dirt, but the space
between her thighs becomes larger, and she can't even wear your skirt
anymore without it slipping past her hips. It's late now and a moth skirts
around a kitchen light, frenzied, as your mother pours wine and watches
the eight o'clock news without listening. The wine sloshes. The spaces
of this heavy house are laced with a taste like pennies, something almost
like certainty. Your father ignores your sister's absence; Mother grows
silent. In her silence and pursed lips, you hear her disdain for the world.
The world drifts off tonight and her bed grows cold, abandoned for now.
Mother makes space for you on the sofa and tucks her white cotton skirt
under herself, almost sighs. You fog the window, watching a reflection.