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For My Sister

by C.W. Emerson


I have told the story many times—


   how I came to be exiled

   from the winter place,


deemed by my parents to be dead,

cursed by my only brother.


      (There would be meadow-grass,

      deep and fragrant,

      but that would not be

      for many seasons.)


Finally I arrived

in a second land of winter—


who’d known there was another north,

with bullwhip winds and cities

built with tunnels in the air?


      (Even then,

      I must have believed

      I deserved the cold.)


I brushed aside

both feeling and fear

with one swipe of the same gloved hand.






What hope can there be

for summer

   when all you’ve known

is the green of an ice-coated lake,


   the rejected spring,

   the blue snow squall

   that stings the eye?—


         (There would be sea-grass

         and spin-drift, white sand beaches

         lined with palm...)




After the earth has flowered

   and the veil has lifted

between you

and the glimmering world,


when the drops of blood

you shed

      appear to you

as tiny rubies in the snow,


you’ll know

that I didn’t want

      to leave you—


   little sister,

   you will know.