Wednesday, May 5, 2010


My oldest sister is turning forty.
We fought in the car once, in front of my mother.
She told me I had a sharp tongue.
I told her I wasn’t one of her children.
We barely talked the rest of the way home.
I sulked in the back like a teenager. I told her I wasn’t 9.

But we all remember each other certain ways.
I know that. I was just angry, I guess.

For instance, she’ll always be 16.
It will always be summer,
with the little black kitchen radio
the cord strained and twisted
to fit in the window
so that she could hear it from the deck,
in a bikini.
The deejay’s would come on between songs
and yell “Flip” and she would so she wouldn’t get burned.
I spied on her from the back door,
the way she looked to so grown up.
All hips and breasts and teased out hair.
Not even human, other worldly and certainly nothing I could become.
Just this creature that lived in the house.

Or in her car, sitting in the backseat at night,
the Led Zepplin blasting from the radio
the strange smell from her cigarette,
the burning glow of the cherry
dancing like a living thing
as she waved her hands in the air singing loud and off key.
It was in those moments that I felt like I was a part of something bigger.
She would whine about town or our mother.
She would pound the steering wheel to the drumbeat.

I don’t think about later when she got in the car and drove away with that man
who would give her a child and little else.
Or when she came home with that small sandy-haired baby boy.
Or when our mother got sick
and we sat on the same back deck,
maybe on that same lawn chair, I don’t remember,
and split a cigarette,
saying we would have to quit smoking now.
Or when we both fell into the rhythm of this life.

No she is still 16.
I am still 9.
I am still in the kitchen
fidgeting with the dish towels
waiting for lunch, watching her drum
her fingers on the arm rests of the lawn chair.
It is always summer.

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