Sisters

No longer do we speak
each other a life to live
we may meet the other
another day
should our fate end together.

They, two peas in a pod
I an outcast
looking in
something I will never gain
friendship with their sister secrets.

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My mom is no longer alive. I assume this picture is from 1970-1971, before my brother was born. I love to see our smiles, but looking today, I wonder why. I imagine I wanted to look pretty. What girl does not want to look pretty?

I was (am) a pig-tailed girly-girl beginning. Beginning. Dreaming. Loving. Life. 

Interruptions happen and my brother was born, wrapped in the same cloth as I. Perched up like my baby dolls, Dressy Betsy and Drowsy Doll, maneuvered to conform to standards. Mothers have high expectations after all.

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On my 5th birthday, mom invited Lori, Janet and the boy across the street, Dean, for cake and ice cream. I did not approve of the boy but mom said, so it happened. My brother was soon to turn 1 and had rule of the party. Great, two boys to ruin the fun. Every gift was mine but really my brothers. “Let him play” and “You need to share” did not sit well with the birthday queen. I was a queen after all, wasn’t I?  In the end, I suppose I pouted because I never had a another birthday celebration.

I did not appreciate my brother until the beginning of third grade. The year was 1975. We spent days building castles out of legos, Indian wrestling (I always won until he surpassed my strength and by then we had put aside such folly) and vrooming around matchbox cars. John would never play dolls and I needing an ally in the house, I bent to his rules. 

We would pass time thumbing through nature books, spotting pictures of wild and dangerous creatures and declaring that hammerhead shark or walrus or cheetah was either him or me. Then we would retrieve our box of crayons and the meat-wrapping paper dad brought home from work and draw scenes of deserts or oceans. Thousands of pictures of deserts and oceans. How I fancied those magical places even before I chanced to visit their spectacular spaces.

In the summer of 1977 the neighbor kids and I put on plays in the backyard. I provided the script, costumes, props and scenery. I directed the shows, or the would-be shows. Parents were sold tickets but they never made it to their seats. I guess they had other grown-up matters to tend. The good news is I didn’t give up, another dream shelved.

Ranger Rick magazine was popular in 1979. The children’s publication came from the National Wildlife Federation and John and I read it cover to cover. NWF encouraged kids to form environmental clubs and I started one with my brother and a mutual friend, Kira. The three of us took to the woods across the street, found a clearing and made a pact to meet after school every Wednesday at 4:00. I was self-appointed president who ruled but mostly the three of us sat in the branches of a favorite tree and talked about nothing in particular. 

The years 1975-1980 are five of my happiest years because of my brother and friendship with our secrets I carry in a heart pocket to this day.  I miss his smiles and sweet hellos. I will soon see you dearest friend. 

Memoir Photography Poetry

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