Mia Nelson

sisters by Mia Nelson

so much left unsaid about 

the woman who washed our hair 


in the river and the tv that peeled itself lemon 

static and our limbs buzzed and we were 


animals not afraid of being animals 

and we tore acidity from the apartment windows


and our walls cried blue and watercolor and the only thing 

left was the shrine we made to the crack in our mother’s


head from which we were born, pulled like sea foam and fake california

sun– the color of your hair, a discarded hand from the yellowy clouds


aren’t you tired of living this way, aren’t you too old to 

be sucking thumbs and playing the wind like a six string guitar. 


your tongue walks penny circles around me 

and the phone loses its purple mind and i am 


ashamed of the flickering light on your face and how 

people have always thought you were younger than you are.


sister, pray to the god of our broken carburetor and the black hair 

we found in the sink you spit skin and yellow blood into


pray to the god of my broken lip and the boy who shattered your knee 

before state and the highway we ran away to: kneel to its fluorescent lights


and the dark, empty night that pooled at us and

the navy color of your mouth when you told me you


were so lost, a bulimic deer in headlights, 

that you were getting closer to angels and further from yourself. 


Lilly, like the flower, like a thousand, golden unpicked hands, 

I looked up to you like a moth sees heaven and your hair was 


the shade mine almost was and my greatest

shame is that mother liked me best.


 Lilly, sister, hand. hand that gave mine its softness, 

 I know I am not as strong as you, I know you grew up


in a closed mouth sun, that you were too much for too much 

but I don’t know if you miss me, or if even that would be enough. 


the last time I saw you, purple lipstick made me cry. you looked too cold to be

the pavement I had grown up burning my feet on, you looked too cold for the interstate, 


for the intersection. you were my god. and worse, you

were my sister. now I pray to the half of the grapefruit I promise


myself I’ll eat tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow like tomorrow

is the knife you put in my hands. if I saw you only once, 


it was the back of your car: a cloud of hot, 

cicada yellow exhaust when i learned that


there is only God and everyone else.