Veronica

Do you know what it’s like to birth a sister?

She used to sit facing me.

Her hair tight in Princess Leia loops.

Fat red cheeks.

It was my job to keep her upright,

as the bath water cooled around us.

But that one time

I abandoned ship.

Her cheeks puffed like the fish of the same name.

Brown shark grenades circled the tub.

Our mother fished them out.

I was supposed to be in the room.

I had studied hard, for seven.

We kept the lamaze book open to the needed page.

And that’s where it was when I awoke.

She birthed so fast there was no time for me.

Mother abandon(ed).

I remember holding her,

the first day home.

Jokes about our mother’s food consumption.

So many hot dogs and hamburgers. Fried onions.

Unneeded fuel, as she showed herself in the wheelchair.

Nurses wanted forms and my father insisted they look.

So red, with dark hair.

Not of our bloodline, we joked.

The little sister I never wanted around.

In my face, and I hers.

Yelling and fists.

Laughter with my father on weekend mornings as I tried to sleep.

Braids that I could not balance for her,

though she never capsized.

It took adulthood to tell my truth;

she was not the desired brother.

The middle naming was mine.

And so I handed her Veronica.

And a lifetime.

Later – in the unravelling – I decided to pick her up.

They left her under a tree and that would not do.

Simply not due.

I marched from my room and spoke truth.

She can hear you, you know.

When later she ran, I cradled her best I could.

Let our father pound on the door.

Heard her tears from a temporary home.

But I wasn’t mother enough for her.

She needed a foot down.

My surplus army boots wanted to dance on speakers.

My hands were busy molding words about things political.

So I gave her back.

I gave her back. Too.

When my own was born.

I gave much back.

So I could mother.

And then we didn’t know what to do.

Veronica and me.

I mean.

I preferred Betty.

And I wanted a brother.

And I just wasn’t.

So now we don’t.

I see Archie as I unload my cart,

and I think of her.

I used to buy the odd edition

for my own.

But she too has grown.

She too wants her wingspan.

No army boots now.

A silent sister whom I love.

A daughter.

Bare foot down.

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