My sister has flat eyes.
I cannot see behind her irises, but they spin like thaumatropes. (One side flashes cages, the other side brown birds with soft wings.)
Stretched out in the sun upon the kerb, heads bent down into apostrophes, we used to watch our legs for bruises, collected them like polka dots.
Once, she gave a jewellery party and wouldn’t take the money offered by our parents’ friends.
Twists of string she cut up with safety scissors and threaded tight with glass beads the colours of our garden, then hung from the branches of the trees along our street.
When she first met the ocean, my sister tried to outrace every wave. I was jealous of the way the water moved in faithful eagerness beside her feet.
My father held her back until she cried between the bannisters; I sat behind my door cross-legged, back straight up against the panels.
After dinner, she traced over all the creases of her face with mother’s peach lipstick and told me she was beautiful.
My sister’s eyes are flat as coins on the faces of dead men.
We catch each other laughing in the grass, and watch the tiny birds fall stiff like autumn leaves.
We used to swim at fifteen feet
above braver bodies lying
soft and pale among the twisted
plasters and the bloated flies.
We swam over coins and earrings,
dissolving talcum powder, pulverised
rubber. We crowded round the divers’
entry points and watched the bubbles
popping on the surface where pointed fingers
broke the water. Silence metered out
by childish exhalations as we waited.
When we went back it was covered over,
the thin blue carpet scattered
with costume cupboard clothes
and kitchen equipment. The cracked white
diving blocks were stacked
in a far corner; the changing rooms still stank
of chlorinated sweat. We stood
on top of cardboard boxes
the colour of dry soil, and stamped
our feet until they echoed: a cluttered
floor, with nothing underneath it.
Each cubicle door swung open, frozen motion,
like the windows of an empty advent calendar.