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Ode to my Sister
I know why they say the heart is in
the heart. When you think about people you love,
you get warm there. I want to thank
my sister for loving me, which taught me
to love. I’m not sure what she loved in me,
besides my love for her — maybe
that I was a copy of her, half-size —
then three-quarters, then size. In the snapshots, you see her
keeping an eye on me, I was a little wild
and I said silly things, and she would laugh her serious
laugh. My sister knew things,
sometimes she knew everything,
as if she’d been born knowing. And I
so did not know — my wonder sent
along with me wherever we’d go,
as if I had it on a tool belt —
I understood almost nothing, and I
loved "pertinding", and I loved to go into the
garden and dance with the flowers, which danced
with me without hardly moving their green
legs, I was like a music box
dropped on my head. And I was bad —
but I don’t think my sister thought I was actually
bad, I was her somewhat smaller
littermate — nor did she need
my badness to establish her goodness. And she
was beautiful, with a moral beauty, she should
glide by, in the hall, like a queen
on a barge on the Nile, she had straight black hair
that moved like a black waterfall, as
one thing, like a black silk skirt.
She was the human. I aspired to her.
And she stood between the god and me.
And her hair ("pertind") was like a wing
of night, and in my dreams she could hold it
over me, and hide me. Of course,
by day, if the god wanted you for something,
she took you. I think if the god had known how to
take my curly hair from my head,
she would have. And I think there was nothing my sister
wanted to take from me. Why would
she want to, she had everything —
in our room she had control of the door,
closed, or open, and the light switch,
dark, or bright. And if anything
had happened to me, I think my sister
would not have known who she was, I was almost
essential to her, as she to me.
If anything had happened to her,
I think I would not be alive today,
and no one would remember me,
as if I had not lived.


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