Children from the Coast
We went hunting for shells a decade ago,
when we were still so small we had baby teeth
wiggling within our pink gums.
Coarse was the sand beneath our soles,
coarse was the way in which we touched each other.
When we crawled out of the ocean which was our mother's body,
we were fully formed, salt stinging the open wounds caused by our
clobbering hands, clawing nails, cutting imprints of our baby teeth.
Tenderness did not come naturally to us.
There didn't have to be a reason for it.
That's mine, my sister said as she ripped a conch from my fingers.
Three years separated us, but still she was so
tough with me. Leave me alone. My sister
treated me like an apple core, like she wanted to
tear herself in half and cut me out of her.
Where did you go? I ask her tonight, last night, a decade ago.
We are both older but not old enough to forget.
Wine-slow, bright-eyed, she laughs. She says wimp.
When she spills across the carpet I do not blink.
When I am wrist deep in the flood she leaves behind I do not blink.
Washed down the street, she rocks all the foundations of the little houses,
which were the remains of our shared womb,
wilted along the curb like overwatered flowers.
My sister is a hurricane in decay.
Weak, she scorns, wicked, wolfish.
Her teeth are yellow and sharp as a needle point,
but I don't own red, so she drew it herself from split skin and spilt wine,
calls me little. Calls me coward.
The thing about a hurricane is that it can't help that it is a hurricane.
Where did you go? I wake the next morning, un-devoured, and weep.
Weeks pass and I watch as all the neighbors go in and out of their ruined homes.
They don't notice the damage. Nobody else sees but I know better.
Jellyfish still sting even when invisible.
We so often forget that Icarus did not burn to ashes.
She is a ruby red stain. She is the sea. She is my sister.
She is not fully a person, but I'm not fully a person either.
She made sure of it, whacked each baby tooth from my mouth
so I had to learn how to speak with my hands instead,
stiff hands of mine that smack like wind against shutters.
Smashed windows. Conch shells. Baby teeth.
Wet, coarse sand. Shut up, she shouts, booming,
land-altering. Coastlines of crumbling rock
were not meant to endure something like this.
Touch me one more time, she threatens.
Wet, wriggling heart like thunder in my ears.
I'll kill you, she says.
I'll kill you, I say back.
I do not know any other love but this.
She laughs. I laugh too.
I love her. I cannot forgive her.
I'll kill you first, she states. I believe her
because I know it is a fact.
You already have, I tell the wine glass collecting silvery dust around the rim,
the sand I still find in my sneakers a decade later.
You already have, I tell the scabs on my knuckles,
the ruby red blots of blood they leave behind on cotton swabs,
the pale pink scars they fold over into like the hidden core untouched within the conch.
You already have, I try to tell her on paper when my mouth and then my fists fail,
but her hands only ever knew how to break things.
What is a poem to a storm?
Where did you go?
The thing about a hurricane is that it is like any other animal from the ocean.
It is not meant to survive on land.
Every now and then it will wash ashore regardless and die screaming.
It does not know that the path it chooses
The thing about my sister is that she cannot help the way she is.
For who blames debris for being riddled on the shore?
I hate her. I miss her so much
that my teeth, fully grown,
You are standing on my sands.
You already know where I am.