The First Time I Sinned

When my sister sank through the putrefying floor boards
of one of the abandoned Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco barns,
my eyes traced the warm blood drawn down her pale little leg,
but how was I supposed to know that it
wasn’t actually melting candle wax embracing the curve of her bonewhite knee?
The wick, I called it, the fracture splitting the waist of her thigh,
and I imagined finding a rusted pinwheel lighter
with a pair of breasts hanging from its belly
and lighting the marrow on fire.

A day later the preacher from Marion County
doused my sister’s wound with moonshine, clover, and a hymn with
a precarious southern accent. He must have
smelled the curiosity fermenting on my brain,
my imagination smothered in butane and naked women,
for he sent me to my bedroom without any dinner that night,
tobacco saliva flying from his wrinkled mouth,
a mouth that looked like the rotting carcass of a haploa clymene moth,
and I fell asleep on damp sheets and a shrinking stomach
listening through the walls of our double wide:
blessed be you, child, cleanse these veins of rust, bring the sounds of the ridge, oh, blessed be you, child.

The skin went first, a clammy color of green and yellow,
and then the hair, the dark skirt to her body,
and the sheets molded and the room had its own
taste—salt, everything turned salt—and then my sister returned
from the hospital without part of her leg.

She was dim after that.



1 Comment

  1. Love this poem! I just love the way you write!

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