Stephanie, you are thirty-five
but it is early still and I’m not sure if you know that yet,
asleep in your bed
in your house,
300 miles from here
where I sit,
watching the dawn spread
a startling blue spider web of light
thinking about sisterhood,
and how when we were younger,
I used to sneak into your room
when you weren’t there
just sit on your bed
and wonder about you.
I touched your jewelry cases, opened them to see your earrings,
laying like little treasures.
I would open your closet,
try on your Red Hot Chili Peppers t-shirt
which still smelled faintly like your hairspray
and your skin.
Or earlier before that
when we shared that little
room but then it seemed so big
plenty big for two little girls
who shared a pair of roller skates,
one on each foot on the bumpy driveway,
and how I wanted my hair to be just like yours
which it never was.
Never so fine and delicate.
Skin never so freckled.
We were all brown-eyed,
except for you with those lighter than sky blue
Our father’s eyes.
When our oldest sister moved out,
you took her room,
and I remember thinking how lonely it would be at night
without you breathing in the bed next to me.
I was a tornado even in sleep,
tossing and turning, sleeping with my eyes open,
but you lay perfectly still,
as if you hadn’t a care in the world
cocooned in whatever dreams you were having,
as you may be right now, as I write this,
another thing I could add to the list of things I didn’t know.
And now we are grown,
too grown it seems,
making the kinds of decisions that
don’t seem as important
and you are far away
too far away it seems,
working to become a mother yourself,
and I wonder where all that time has gone.
And I hope that you have girls,
to pound down the steps of that house
to slip secret notes between the cracks in the wall
and I want you to remember that we used to do that
from one closet to another,
and I want you to know them,
their nervous late night call for you in the dark.
I want them to share a pair of roller skates
on the driveway
so that we can watch this cycle
and we can see how certain things
and that sisterhood is unchangeable.
It is a coming together and apart,
It is our hair growing down to our toes.
It is the secret language we once knew,
and then forgot,
coming back to our tongues one final time.
– Ally Malinenko © 2009