Dear Sister of My Childhood

Stephanie Rogers

Remember Mom and how she sent us away
to play near the highway ditch, us throwing gravel,
cracking a windshield, an accident. The wronged

woman dragged us by the arms, back
to Mom, who was talking on the phone with Dad,
their separation not quite

official, the whistle of the kettle in the kitchen.
Listen, the woman yelled at Mom
who paid attention then. Your kids banged up

my ride with a rock, and Mom twisted
the phone cord around her wrist, smiled a sorry,
sent us to our bedroom where we blanketed

the stuffed animals, planned a fantasy
ship trip, and swung them over
the green carpet ocean till a rabbit flew off

and drowned, the kittens and bears unaware
of their fallen friend. What the hell?
We were fun kids, placing our heads

on Dad’s chest, listening for his heartbeat,
our faces like mother
birds covering the nest. We licked

our plates clean when told, laughed at the old
dog dragging its ass across the rug, salted up
those outdoor slugs that vanished

into mush. Dear sister, visit me now.
New York City stays
windy all year, the crowds shouting

their snare-drum quips at one another,
the summer sweaty as beach shells, Dad dead
from a rip in the intestine, Mom’s boyfriend gone

on the vodka binge, and all my life spent rounding
corners like a whirlwind, my smoke
settling now. But here I am, still

broke and meddling in your Nashville life,
your three girls sweet as key lime pie
smashed in the face, their tresses: long

and swaying down their backs the way honey
slips softly from the spoon. Let’s crescendo
under the moon together with our banter,

tempers under the weather
for once, us in love with our stupid boyfriends,
giddy as a cow

born with a broken
leg, amputated and fit with a prosthetic limb.
Run the fields with me, like that,

misremembering our girlhood just a bit,
not flinching at Dad’s belt untwisted
from his waist or Mom’s glass bowls

thrown and shattered near our faces.
Now, we’re aces, two women settled and hot
as the metal in our teeth drilled out.

Stephanie Rogers grew up in Middletown, Ohio, and she now lives in New York City. She was educated at The Ohio State University and the University of Cincinnati. Her first collection of poems, Plucking the Stinger, was published by Saturnalia Books, and her second collection, Fat Girl Forms, was published from Saturnalia Books in 2021.

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