On Being a Big Sister

I apologize for the lack of depth in my posts lately – life’s barely allowed me to keep up with it, much less update the blog on all that’s happening in my life and heart. Hopefully this post will make up for that a little!

I read this poem by an African American Poetess the other day, and it had me thinking about the time I have enjoyed with Bub and Duck this week. It is a rather long poem, so I have tried to choose the stanzas that most convey the feeling that inspired this post…

For My Sister Molly Who in the Fifties

Once made a fairy rooster from
Mashed potatoes
Whose eyes I forget
But green onions were his tail
And his two legs were carrot sticks
A tomato slice his crown.
Who came home on vacation
When the sun was hot
And cooked
and cleaned
And minded least of all
The children’s questions
A million or more
Pouring in on her
Who had been to school
And knew (and told us too) that certain
Words were no longer good
And taught me not to say us for we
No matter what “Sonny said” up the
road.

For my sister Molly who in the fifties
Knew Hamlet well and read into the night
And coached me in my songs of Africa
A continent I never knew
But learned to love
Because “they” she said could carry
A tune
And spoke in accents never heard
In Eatonton.
Who read from Prose and Poetry
And loved to read “Same McGee from Tennessee”
On nights the fire was burning low
And Christmas wrapped in angel hair
And I for one prayed for snow.

Who in the fifties
knew all the written things that made
Us laugh and stories by
The hour Waking up the story buds
Like fruit. Who walked among the flowers
And brought them inside the house
And smelled as good as they
And looked as bright.
Who made dresses, braided
Hair. Moved chairs about
Hung things from walls
Ordered baths
Frowned on wasp bites and seemed to know the endings
Of all the tales I had forgot.

Who off into the university
Went exploring To London and
To Rotterdam
Prague and to Liberia
Bringing back the news to us
Who knew none of it

Who found another world
another life With gentlefolk
Far less trusting
And moved and moved and changed
Her name
And sounded precise
When she spoke And frowned away
Our sloppishness

Who became someone overhead
A light A thousand watts
Bright and also blinding

For My sister Molly who in the fifties
found much
Unbearable
Who walked where few had
Understood And sensed our
Groping after light
And saw some extinguished
And no doubt mourned.

For my sister Molly Who in the fifties
Left us.

I’m so glad that though I ‘left’ when I got married, I didn’t go far. I can still spend those special moments influencing my younger siblings. I’m still ‘here’ to bandage a stubbed toe at 2AM, teach how to slice a mango, or how to do a buttonhole stitch (all of which we have done in the last 36 hours).

2 responses to “On Being a Big Sister”

  1. Traci Avatar

    I completely understand your appreciation of living near to family. Although it’s exciting to wander for me, and I’m sure that some day our location will change, I’m daily grateful for the opportunity to enjoy my family while living here. It’s especially wonderful for me to watch my boy interact with his grandparents on a regular basis.

  2. Rachel Avatar

    I love the poem!!! I want to be able to read all of it someday…just one of those things that bring a sentimental tear to the eye….:)

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