My dear sweet, little sister:
an annoyance sent by angry storks.
Oh, how with floppy tongues they flock.
She is a nymph and I, Medusa.
If only they would love me the way they love her.
Her room is pink as embarrassing thoughts.
Cushions flower on her bed like rose quartz.
The curtains flush with a secret,
falling crushed on the carpet.
The only survivor is a nervous wooden door.
I despair of her blushing room.
I want to throw paint on her walls
and make one vast black hole
to draw out the crimson bloom
like venom from an aching wound.
Yet, she knows the words and looks that cut
only mask an older sister’s love.
I remember the night before her operation
she crawled into my bed at 4am
and I held her while she shook.
At twenty-two, I accepted a teaching job
and moved into my first apartment.
Tucked away in the hips
of a hollowed-out hosiery factory,
my walls were red brick and white plaster.
That winter, every morning alarm began
in the dark. I set the coffee machine spluttering
and turned on BBC News:
the perfect emulation of adulthood.
Back then, I didn’t know
we were sharing the same cold.
You lived in the ribs, in a perpetual
blanket cocoon, eyes narrowed at the puttering
of the electric heater. I dragged my duvet
to the living room and marked essays,
your almost-image, imperfect parallel.
When they dug up the king in the car park,
I wonder if you joined me in the crowd
that gathered only yards away from
the rosy bones of our chilly homes,
trying to catch a glimpse of a funeral
five hundred years in the making.
Maybe we were shoulder to shoulder,
then turned and walked away from each other
along the arcs of a five-year circle.
Bex Hainsworth is a poet and teacher based in Leicester, UK. She won the Collection HQ Prize as part of the East Riding Festival of Words and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Visual Verse, Neologism, Atrium, Paddler Press, Canary, and Brave Voices Magazine. Find her on Twitter @PoetBex.