Astavakra was born crooked for laughing in the womb

I slept on the top bunk

Caleb slept on the bottom bunk


For the best of his years, or what could have been,

Eric slept on the leftover space on the floor


of that closet-sized room that brother brother

and sister shared.


Caleb rode his bicycle over my forehead, once. It was

an accident


but there was the swelling, and at school it drew

attention that I still can’t erase.


Once, I fell asleep on Eric’s blankets

so in the morning I found him


sleeping under a beach towel instead.

I pretended not to care. Not to notice.


And so does he.


It was like this that we three saw

and made each other bleed:


Giggling in church

and at Grandma’s funeral


throwing cold dishwater

at each other’ bare shoulders


and sometimes hot irritation.

Singing the shower and in the car, little wolf


cubs crying for duet

through the closed door; we


teased our parents, carefully, predictably,

laughing, too, when they rearranged


the kitchen or our beliefs.

Could we call it a violence


that we laughed


and laughed


That we grew

our capacities to hurt and leave and forget

and choose otherwises and elsewheres

more and more so in the wake of each year? 


The violence

that there is still a kind of sister I have been

Meaning to be.

My Grandmother’s Hands