Sister Riptide


Your sweaty face presses my cheek
in this sway-swaying of
hips, cohesion, anemone.

Your ocean runs aground
beneath red sky’s warning.
Soul-stung by your own poison —
          you bolt.

Never mind the crush of crowd,
forget the beat rattling my ribcage.
I am in a room with one soul.

You are outside
in the black —


sum of shore and riptide.


In the form of breath,
as the function of true black,
it stalks the woods.

In the breath of form,
as the true black of function,
it worries the remains of a deer.

Breathless form,
functionless truth —
at least evil cannot cross water.


Puberty coincided with our move to the haunted house —
          poor little sister, newly nine and weighed down with
          blood and ghosts.

We both know a woman may swallow her dis-ease
          by the pint, yet still the shadow detonates.
          There are no mornings, just blood.

The haunting?
          You carry it in your soul’s womb.
          Once a month, it takes you for a prowl.

On the lawn, in the oven of summer,
          you came to, checked the contents of your purse,
          asked me if I was mad.

          Hush, hush –


Your demons sniff the driftwood of my bones.
What is the proper measure of legion?
By the pint, by the shot, not at all?

Blacked-out taillights mask us in cohesion of night.
You recall nothing of your wreckage, how you
left your purse, left me, left yourself.

Sister Riptide, you were ransacked,
and there is no water to cross all the long road home.


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