To my sister, Roberta

 

I

with what tenderness,
my sister, life invites us
to the dance

ten years of silence have passed
between us &
turned at last into a grief in need
of song, a blossom in search of soil &
light its roots & leaves intact

some fine chink of
cold has gone & taken with it
my anger left me with only love

I want to put a poem together the
way it feels

something of life, some-
thing good

birds me sing. the red morning sky
turns gold before it fades into
the day. I try to take those colors
with me, from my run. and
paint them into poetry

II

I hold on to a Christmas tag that says
“the smallest mouse is wonder enough to
stagger sextillions of infidels”
love, Bobbie

West Webster days, library club
and Miss Genung, you as class
valedictorian, my older sister who
was adored by me
the gown you made for your wedding,
how happy I thought you were

visiting you in Boston, your
marriage dissolving and you
had changed, grown angry
I was torn, not coming by bitterness
naturally
still,
obliged to you

your divorce destroyed us both
for a terrible measure of time
wrenching pain, your wanting to be
freed, needing your family’s support
and they not hearing you

III

years later, the final divorce
was at my husband’s grave you
stood there, stone-faced, looking like
your mother as you age

refusing to acknowledge her or dad who
stood across from us, pleading
silently
I can’t forget the long ride back,
my tears, and your sharp words,
“cut out the act”; how could I grieve,
honestly, for a drunk I couldn’t
live with

you went home to New York, and I,
back to the remnants of my life
and that was it, almost the end,
an impasse
your judgments were, perhaps, correct
yet not for me
as are my ties, my own devotions
not for you
Yet if I could, I would go back &
plead life’s case, and ours
for we are sisters, still

IV

peace settles in sweetly
this afternoon

the flavor of a fine
natural tea
the wholeness of the earth (its color,
smell & Spring with it)

this moment is mine; the layers of
grief fall away; my own bare branches
divine the sun
we have survived, my daughters and
myself

we have suffered
keen-edged, the memories return
coming home from the hospital,
having survived the storms
my daughters waiting for me

and Laura, caught in the cross-currents,
days when she was gone,
I didn’t know where or why
or could she get above the maelstrom

all of that
now changed by distance

hope

like some ancient Yoga,
by holding on and letting go
at once

this sorrow bothers me
the garrulous, silver
trees

whisper their windy
secrets

and I, at a loss for words
and I, at a loss for life

drive slowly down my
daughter’s street
how difficult the days til now
I want to do all the things I’ve
never, through my own dullness, done

I read poetry aloud
and take my tofu seriously. my tears
tell me you have survived & bitterly

still, I need trace the words
with my hands

are you well, my sister?