Elizabeth Gade “Sister”


Elizabeth Gade

we come from the north country
the cold country
on the border of another nation
each born into bracing winter winds
our narrow world isolated
insulated with blankets of brittle snow
we learned to breath in that frigid air
learned to swallow the bitterness
carried all the clichés of
dysfunctional family
and failed marriages
out into the world,
strengthened our insides
on all that icy indifference

we were born five years apart
but equal in our long limbs
and matching pale blue eyes
able to see clearly
everything in front of us
everything we did not want out of life
the injustice of being born to our surroundings steeped in ignorance
knowing we were destined for greatness
strong in the mind
you the scholar, the steady one
the stand-in mother, the mentor
me the poet, the unpredictable one
but predictable in my
own wild ways

we are still children in my mind
still growing up at the end
of long dusty dirt roads
sweat of horses drying on our thighs
galloping hard across open fields
untainted by fear of falling
free from the expectations
of mothers and men
still years away from our own
self- imposed attempts of perfection,
of adulthood,
of my brilliant execution of failure
perfect in its own way,
before you were forced to play mediator
kept in limbo between our
self-created family war
the peacekeeper caught
behind enemy lines
white flag extended in vain

we separated at the seams
our hands torn apart like the careless
ripping of paper dolls
the day you went out into the world
paving the way
oh how I envied your freedom
mourned the loss of you
sister friend confidant
the stone, the stability of my childhood
my secret aspiration
I wanted to be when I grew up
the first time I felt left behind
a stranger in my own family

we were lost to each other along the way
you left first but I left farther and longer
hoping to be as brave and bold as you
a better older version of myself
instead I became the victim
of my self-imposed exile
tested the bonds of sisterhood
naïve to how you must have suffered
blood is thicker than water
but left untended
it becomes clotted and congealed
strangling the connection
allowing what we grew up believing
as unbreakable to rust and weaken
oh how we hurt the ones we love most
in our clumsy attempts at life

we are together the best part of childhood
you are what grounds me to this world
the roots that sustain my family tree
the destination I have journeyed
long and hard towards
that place on a map
marked “home”

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