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Sister as Moving Object


my sister is moving in me again
with her long        arms and legs

moving to tell me         she's still here
inside my body          along with fireballs

free-roaming breath        some days she's a tanker truck
magnetic        gleaming down my highways

some days       an ocean liner       splitting
the dark waters        today        my sister's particular beauty

rocks the house     to 1965     wearing pink-pink-
caked-on lipstick       tight pants       teased-up-

Ann-Margaret hair         could've been anyone's
sister and was        adopted from another place

she raised me up       taught me       the necessary things:
how to mix        water with bourbon       in the picture-frame bar

how to mix        the real and the unreal        and make it glisten
sea of submerged heartache        great blanket of sea:

seamount       sweptback       from the guyot to the springboard
sluice               railbed              heart of copper field

nightshade       when she hid her arsonist boyfriend
in the basement closet       (when the cops came looking for him)

she taught me the power of a lie:        no, I haven't seen him
no, not since yesterday
       she taught me to be visible       then follow

the circle down:        ball bearings       axehandles
fields of snakes
       hot spur of escape        when she ran downstairs

to tip him off:        now! through the backyards
they won't look there
      she gave and gave       early lessons in desire

her and her dark-haired muscle boy       on the rock
behind the shopping center        me the lookout        air thick

with everything coming       his thin teeshirt        i watched their mouths:
|torrential|        everything i wanted        moving through them

today I name the lasting roads:       artery       toll road      road of disguise
she taught me imprisonment        not being a rat:

I took to the heat        like a dog to an electric fence        don't go past
the edge of the yard       2 girls blank from no beginnings       in combat

so tall        the only way to beat her        was to scissor her
between my thick legs       and squeeze

tonight       the house humming       her particular beauty:
lack of compromise       she grabbed the nail scissors       stabbed me:

sea of the head thrown back        she, later        dancing to loud music
said:        do it like this, don't listen       to what they tell you

sea we never shared        blood sea


Jan Beatty

The Switching/Yard
University of Pittsburgh Press


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