Gillian Conoley

My Sister's Hand In Mine

Often without knowing how,

I would see you in a rain, in a hammock,

in a window, in yourself,

in a time more here than place,

like when you left the guitar

in the allure of a bus stop,

and pinned a tiny flag

to your dress.  You remember.

There was a war on.

Men of a melancholy one could hold.

The past was a souvenir

that could propel us

from one void into another,

until we grew up

like women who sold perfume

walking around

in their dead aunt’s shoes,

who walked an imagined land.

Our mother grew one dark,

particular rose.

A girl took a white dog walking.

We wanted more clouds, more iced tea,

more laughter that reached

into a pitch, that brimmed over

into intelligence.

Gradually there was a recital.

A certain Mary and Priscilla,

a psychopathic liar and a beautiful klepto,

a self that touches all edges.

It was an old saying torn

from a garden of birdbaths.

As children we were gawky.

What is beautiful?  What is ugly?

What is Country?  Liberty?  Honor?

We returned home alone,

to improvise, on the piano.

The willow trees buried the willow trees.

It was like nothing you remember.

It was like how can you really

know anyone when beauty is as beauty does,

and the voice you thought was yours

seems to fly away behind you

like a ribbon caught in wind

chasing all that your story

was ever going to be,

while out of sheer pleasure

the streets begin to unfold

into other streets.

Gillian Conoley

 Gillian  Conoley

Gillian Conoley is the author of several collections of poetry, including The Plot Genie (2009), Profane Halo (2005), and Some Gangster Pain (1987).  She has received four Pushcart Prizes, the Academy of American Poets Award, a fellowship from the Washington State Arts Commission, and the Jerome J. Shestack Award from The American Poetry Review.  She is currently a Professor of English at Sonoma State University.

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