Elisabeth Sharp McKetta

When a sister loses a sister

she must use her body for two.

The night your sister disappeared

you were at the pool with your friends, looking for an alibi

so that you wouldn’t have to swim.

When a sister loses a sister, the living sister

has a choice.

Collect all of the books on sister-losing that exist

and consider writing another. Retire to your room and read

for years and years until you have a philosophy for why you lost her.

Or move into

one part of your body that she can’t move. Your bones are pure

blood and marrow and can break if you make them.

Let your belly protrude

and learn to dance—

play rugby and get hurt

and somersault

down hills and break

your bones and let

branches scrape your arms

When you lose a sister your hair must run long, not cut

like a boy in mourning. How cold

can your body get, and how hot? What pulse is that

that wasn’t there before?

You ask what to do now.

You must drip your bathing suit down the road

and walk home.

Elisabeth Sharp McKetta is a writer living in Boise, Idaho. Her poems have been published most recently in Monkey Puzzle, Ardent, and RE:AL, and her play, “Zelda Speaks of Swans,” has been performed in two long-standing new works festivals. See also

  fiction    poetry    "fact"    photography
masthead      guidelines