For My Sister’s Visit Last Christmas

It perhaps begins with me:
The solitary drip of childhood,
the family of three, that is,
myself, my mother, my father.
The automatic thought that
we were all there was.

And then there was her,
crowning from the womb of a woman
ten years my mother’s senior,
thirty years before I was anything
resembling a notion.

Now, a tumbled woman on the second stair,
dropped by the flaccid fist of America,
sprained, my sister found crying enough
to wake me, when three becomes four
for one week out of the year.

Perhaps it was the makeup I borrowed,
thieving swipes of mascara, glimpses of fabric.
Perhaps it was the life I stole,
parallels limping across each other, her
a stranger on Christmas morning
hobbling into the living room,
face puffy with sleep.

Unbecoming of us, we unravel, pulsing.
My sister would say nothing of our father forgetting her birthday
when we checked her into the hospital
for an X-ray on her tender foot.
Of my mother, strange and wire,
tight-lipped when she complained
she never knew what gift the daughter
that wasn’t her’s.

It’s genetic, the betrayal. Generational and tart,
the burn, the blister, born from still-hot coal
from my grandfather and my grandmother and her grandmother,
and my father,
and my mother,
and the red cowgirl boots she wore,

And my sister, her wax head then just three years old,
lit aflame and shimmering and
much too far afield
to hold.

Sofia Catanzaro is a junior at Smith College, studying creative writing and film. She spends much of her time between Northampton, Massachusetts, and New York, where she was born. She is a two-time recipient of a Scholastic Art & Writing award, both for her poetry and her prose. She has been previously published in Rookie, Teen Ink, and The Fieldston LP. Her work primarily focuses on human connection, family, and the many forms that love can come in.

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