The Sisters


Her face is fine in places,
in line with other public carapaces,
diminutive in its difference
to the casual array of eyes,
however hard she tries.
Yet her handkerchief is stained
by intimations of a sharper
pattern in the grain.
Days and winters
reflect themselves in skinny mirrors.
Her sister won't agree.
The work hurts her hands,
asserts itself with blisters.
A solution relieves the ache,
a lotion that opens a mouth
by which the orchids speak.
"Whom do you pretend to be,"
the orchids ask the sisters,
"you or you or any mother’s creature
asleep on the sofa on Valentine's Day?"
The orchids ask too much.
The girls prefer the crocuses,
their raucous textures
buried deep below the snow.
They laugh about the time
their uncle fed his eyes
to the angel fish.
They leaped from his dish,
escaped through a darkened hall
where feathers of the
cormorants had been.
They lived on flakes of skin,
dormant in the nest of rust
that holds a place
for the rest of us.