She thought about her sister and how the shape of her face
became foreign in certain light, as if carved by the hands of a man
who had spent too much time on oil and canvas
to remember his own skin. Her eyes began to resemble chips of ice
as they filled with rainwater; the world like a river
that runs over them and
She thought about her sister
trying to talk in her sleep
the way her tongue flapped uselessly
about her mouth, a coil of smooth muscle pinning itself
to her teeth. It spat syllables
like broken stones. She thought about her sister spread across
the bed sheets, palms turned upward, saying look, it isn't so bad,
as the night came and took her body in waves, glowing. She thought about
her sister making a lantern of herself, illuminated
from the inside. She thought about stillness.
She thought about the brook that wandered
a little way beyond their backyard, where she had once seen
the small, ragged body of a fox sprawled amongst the weeds. She'd pushed at it
with a broken branch, awed,
until her father came and grabbed it from her hands, shouting
that dead things shouldn't be touched.
If she closed her eyes she could see the fox as a child
and its dark fur a screen of leaves to ward off the mosquitoes
when it laid down to sleep.
She went back every day to watch the moss grow over its bones.
She thought about summer afternoons
when she and her sister would hold their straw sandals in one hand
and dash through the neighbor's garden, their bare feet
slapping wetly against the earth. She thought about the two of them
dancing without shoes across the wooden bridge
that hung over the brook, her sister's hair
flicking wildly through the wind as the freckles on her sunburned face
slid down the arch of her nose
to where her palms were held open, waiting.
She thought about diving alongside her sister
into the muddied water;
how they would search out the biggest rocks
and flip them belly-up to finger the pale undersides.
She thought about making wishes on the fish they caught
with their own hands.
They flipped them up into the air like an offering to some strange
and faceless god
they could find only between themselves.
She thought about the dead fox
and her father's harshness.
She thought about shame.
She thought about the time
their oldest dog had dug his way under the broken fence
and fled to the other side of the water, leaving only
a misshapen trail of paw prints
that faltered when it reached the woods. She cried
until even the willows closed their leaves
and turned away, shielding themselves
from the grief.
On the third evening her sister pulled her out of bed
to take her to the rooftop, where they stayed up all night
renaming the constellations. She thought about trying to find
the shapes of lost souls printed among the stars. Trying to find
the shapes of lost stars printed on the stones beneath their feet.
She thought about the light collecting in their lungs like ash
and how it was beautiful, every molecule of them vibrating, their bodies
alight. She thought about the fire
against her heart and her heart
unclenching like a fist, trying to let go
of what it knows.
She thought about her sister saying
look, it isn't so bad, as the night came
and took her through the window, violently possessed,
and thrust her headfirst
into the soft and yielding earth.
She thought about her sister, about falling after her,
through the broken window,
into the night,
to a place
where the moss would grow over their bones as