For My Sister
I stand in the kitchen, surrounded by ordinary things:
the curtains pulled back, the coffee maker
humming, my sister asleep in the other room
where the alarm is beeping like something flatlining.
I pour myself a coffee, and it steams up the window glass.
I’ve read that siblings of people who cut
are more likely to tear up their own flesh, that early deaths
run in families, and I fear every day for my sister’s unmarred
skin, her childhood scars, her bitten-down
fingernails and the damage they could do.
Here I stand, alone with the white scars on my arms, my sister
asleep in the other room, her hair undone around her face like
a fairy tale princess. How I wish I could promise her a happy ending.
I try to write it out. The hero dies in this one. That won’t do. I would give her
a better story, but what do I know about princesses? About shining armour
and the thorns that wait below? What do I know
about stories with happy endings? The prince wanders
the wilderness for years, blinded, searching. That won’t
do. I put down my pen. I pour my sister a coffee, go
to wake her up, to feel her pulse, to watch her
stir from the bed, so fiercely alive.
I want to tell her I love her and have it mean
everything I need it to mean. Please
don’t end up like me. Instead I mix pancake batter
while she stumbles bleary-eyed through the kitchen. She has church
later, and the rest of her life, and I still don’t know how to say it,
how to write it out. She is going places I can’t reach, places
I’ll never be able to reach. This is a story
she is writing for herself.
How I love her for it.
By Aryk Greenawalt
Aryk Greenawalt is a queer nonbinary writer studying abroad. They are deeply interested in the power that words have to impact the world, the way that prose and poetry influence society as much as society influences them.