looking at a photo of my sister aged five

By | 1 February 2022

by the back door, little pink gumboots
a wind-chilled nose tip your accessory
the tiniest rose nub out of place
(brown snow slushies, dirty roads)

now you go clubbing
alcohol-pinked cheeks & hot strobe lights
push push pushing against your body.

from houses, street corners, I pick you up
headlight-reflected, sleep sitting
in your tired smile’s corners:
my brightest stop sign.

your seventeenth birthday & my surprise
pink vanilla dream cake
on top a wreath of tiny sugar roses:

they melt on your warm tongue. Behind,
another year of you dissolves into
a sunset-pinked October sky

and now the photo flat, / laptop screen-entrapped /
you look up at me and I look back
my heart squeezed between

the gap of then and now
how you have always been there,
little pink gumboots tracking muddy footprints
across my own life

even now, eight hundred kilometres apart
you sing me home

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