203: Sister as Moving Object

203: Sister as Moving Object

203: Sister as Moving Object

Sister as Moving Object
by Jan Beatty

my sister is moving in me again
with her long arms and legs

moving to tell me she’s still here
inside my body along with fireballs

free-roaming breath some days she’s a tanker truck
magnetic gleaming down my highways

some days an ocean liner splitting
the dark waters today my sister’s particular beauty

rocks the house to 1965 wearing pink-pink-
caked-on lipstick tight pants teased-up-

Ann-Margaret hair could’ve been anyone’s
sister and was adopted from another place

she raised me up taught me the necessary things:
how to mix water with bourbon in the picture-frame bar

how to mix the real and the unreal and make it glisten
sea of submerged heartache great blanket of sea:

seamount sweptback from the guyot to the springboard
sluice railbed heart of copper field

nightshade when she hid her arsonist boyfriend
in the basement closet (when the cops came looking for him)

she has taught me the power of a lie: no, I haven’t seen him
no, not since yesterday she taught me to be visible then follow

the circle down: ball bearings axehandles
field of snakes hot spur of escape when she ran downstairs

to tip him off: now! through the backyards
they won’t look there she gave and gave early lessons in desire

her and her dark-haired muscle boy on the rock
behind the shopping center me the lookout air thick

with everything coming his thin teeshirt i watched their mouths:
|torrential| everything i wanted moving through them

today I name the lasting roads: artery toll road road of disguise
she taught me imprisonment not being a rat:

I took to the heat like a dog to an electric fence don’t go past
the edge of the yard 2 girls blank from no beginnings in combat

so tall the only way to beat her was to scissor her
between my thick legs and squeeze

tonight the house humming her particular beauty:
lack of compromise she grabbed the nail scissors stabbed me:

sea of the head thrown back she, later dancing to loud music
said: do it like this, don’t listen to what they tell you

sea we never shared blood sea

"Sister as Moving Object" by Jan Beatty, from THE SWITCHING/YARD by Jan Beatty, copyright © 2013 University of Pittsburgh Press. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.