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.