[Grief, little sister]

Grief, little sister, another poet has died, too young, & here I am getting an oil change, staring at a step ladder propped under a wall-mounted tv & a sign that reads PleaseDoNotTouchTheTVThankYou. Behind a Plexiglas divider, the cashier stammers pepperoni into her phone as if she has never spoken the word before, in the same way that grief is a stranger on my tongue. The tv screen is blank; I am trying not to think about being sealed in glass. At Dad’s funeral, his hair was slicked back & you whispered that doesn’t look like him. We giggled, you offered me half a Xanax. I am trying not to think about how much harder it is right now to not cry in this service station, over a writer I never met, harder to suppress the urge to reach through the cashier’s pay slot, pat her hand — there, there. Once, drinking a Coke at Jupiter’s lunch counter with Grandma, I swallowed an ice cube. This morning, it’s that same square obstruction in the throat, made of glass instead of ice. I open my mouth, allow the fragile cube to float out like a cold balloon. Take it by the string, please. See the woman inside, wearing a red shirt, ordering a pizza? She is holding a ladder that leans toward something we are not allowed to touch.

[Magic, little sister]

Magic, little sister, remember the surge we felt wrinkling our noses like Tabitha from Bewitched, or running with our ruffled umbrellas, attempting to leap into Poppins flight? And how silly, or sin, is able to undo us, float us down from the ceiling tea party. Mom told me recently her grandmother read tea leaves, and did something with cards. What else have we never asked her? Have I told you my daughter is able to manifest furniture she needs for her apartment, make it appear on the sidewalk (free), or that she can exactly guess the number of jelly beans in a jar? In Nana’s things I found a relic of Little Rose Ferron, dirt under celluloid. Graveyard dirt. My earliest memory of church is staring into red votives on their cast iron stand, wanting so badly to light one with the long wooden stick, having a screaming fit when Mom said no. Even the cry room could not muffle me. Every night lately, I kneel and gaze into a cluster of candles, palms upward, intone the names of everyone I know. What good it does, I’m not sure, but now and then my hands tremble and the table rises.

M.A. SCOTT ’s poetry has recently appeared in The Adirondack Review, Heron Tree, The Mid-American Review, and Pretty Owl Poetry. She grew up in Rhode Island and currently lives in New York's Hudson Valley.