Litany Involving My Sister

Tamara Panici

Shrink. Put silence in your pocket. Let it suffer a warm darkness

as pleasant as breath behind teeth. Shrink. Sister, my sin is primordial. Sister,

our past is too heavy to shrink, yet again we fan our bodies out over it

hoping it will shrivel, a flower under the sun. Sister, let me lay my body over it.

Sister, shrink. Shrink small enough for me to keep you. Sister, I am afraid

you will go on somewhere without me. Sister, will you shrink? Prayer, will you

shrink? History, shrink. Tumors, shrink. Body, bones, I command you, shrink.

Hope and story, shrink. Future chrysanthemums, shrink. Shrink

into nothing. Sister, I am so small. Sister, there is little room left inside this body I call

a place. I have been made so small. Sister, is it your lungs or your words

that have shrunken? Sister, each day I beg the world around my head

to shrink. Sister, I have so little to offer. Sister, I am sending you

a shake and a chicken sandwich. Sister, nothing will nourish me.

I have eaten the flesh inside my cheeks. I have made myself bleed. Sister,

my sleep shrinks. My words shrink. They turn into hard pebbles of sound.

Sister, I have sent you an empty letter. Sister, please don’t speak

without saying a word. Sister, the tiny bones we sought in childhood

are no longer beautiful. Sister, my bones won’t shrink. In my sleep, Sister,

I rock you. Sister, in my sleep, I have placed you in a wooden coffer. Sister, please

stay with me. God has thrown his shrunken toys at my feet. Sister, I want them all

to shatter. Sister, I am so sorry. I am scared of news, but silence scares me more. Speak,

Sister. Sister, will it be a knife against your body? Will it be shrunken orbs?

Sister, the rainforest is liquid inside you. The stars irradiate madly in your cells.

Sister, please tell me. How long? Sister, how long? Sister, I am so sorry. I have tried

to shrink my memory of you. I have tried to shrink it small enough to toss,

small as an apple seed, small as the seed of my sin. Sister, could we shrink

small as seeds? Sister, shrink. Sister, small as a seed, there is no one,

no one who knows which one of us will grow.


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