Living With My Sister
Your hair is in braids
tight enough to tempt tears.
The buttons of your antique
silk shirt are not done up at the back,
and I can see the bobbles of your spine,
clustered below your skin, shifting like glacial ice.
Seeing your spine turns my heart turns inside out.
I worry that your face will crack into a hundred,
thousand pieces if the house gets too cold.
My bedroom looks out to the mountain,
and every morning, when I pull back the curtains,
you are there, at the very top, doubled over.
You get smaller and smaller every day.
I have to use binoculars to see if it’s really you.
The space that exists between our talks can last
for days, and I find myself wondering
if the monster behind your disorder
took your voice too.
I have to ask meaningless questions just
to make sure you can speak.
I ask things like do we need more milk?
And what time will the sun set today?
Your face has grown so very weary.
It’s like you have met every soul
that will rise this year on Halloween.
You need to look and then look again
at things, because you forget what it is
that you’ve already seen.
And your mouth, it looks as though
you have double sets of teeth
below and on top.
You have a dangerous carelessness
with hot water, holding an open hot water bottle
to your chest, and pressing its belly to allow
the steam to leave the opening at the top.
I tell you to be careful. You tell me to go to hell.
And this is our life. This is our fragile existence.