Don’t think I didn’t watch the news, sister of mine,
in those days. Don’t think I didn’t see you
in that mountaintop palace strewn with blood–red bones,
the mosasaur moat, the horned, hooved footmen.
At four in the morning with the baby biting me,
I watched you call the President of Australia
from his velvet bed
and feed him to the army ants.
You were never satisfied. Money, sex, guns, velociraptors:
Mother only wanted your voice on the phone.
You wanted the world.
Evil, they said. Pray for her soul, they said,
for her to step down meekly right this instant
and join some convent, or die. But I clung to the television
not knowing what I felt, at first,
pretending to change diapers and scrub sheets,
not knowing half of it was envy.
They broadcast that final battle of yours —
you remember, I’m sure — and I scratched tic–tac–toe
in my arms to wake myself.
I often dreamed they’d murdered you because I’d put a foot wrong:
I’d made the wrong face
or whispered your name to my son.
Those grim, strapping, blue–pyjamas men:
I watched them fly. They shattered stones with their hands
and cracked wise like you were nobody’s sister.
That last explosion, like a nursery–school
spilled can of paint, Golden Yellow and Clementine
licked with Sea Green.
Of course they never found your body.
Finding people is a black art, sister —
ask me about the time I lost my husband.
One morning, the squeeze of his sweaty arms:
the next, nothing. Bedclothes in disarray.
It took a month to find him:
lazing in the U.S. Virgin Islands
with a younger me whose voice didn’t choke
when they broadcast endless sparkling parades
for your defeat.
I get it, sister.
I know the rage that fills a woman,
swelling you up cumulonimbusly
until not even the President of Australia
could be enough.
So don’t grovel like that on the doorstep.
I can’t offer much:
I don’t keep army ants
or a bathtub big enough for your mosasaur.
But the guest room’s clean.
Don’t beg for forgiveness like I’m one of them, sister,
like I’ll put on blue pajamas and blow you to smithereens
if you cry the wrong number of tears.
You don’t know what you did for me
in your old defiance. Please, come in.
There’s tea in the kettle, soup on the stove,
and a six–year–old, chocolate–smudged nephew I’d like you to meet.
We can talk until sunup and past,
if you like. Don’t sorry me. We’re sisters.
Ada Hoffmann is a Canadian author whose poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, Stone Telling, and Mythic Delirium, and has been nominated for the Rhysling award. When she isn’t singing, LARPing, or noodling around with computers, she also writes short prose fiction, and she made her first professional sales in 2013.