A visit from The Healing Muse: 'We Were' and 'Sleeping With My Sister'
Deirdre Neilen, PhD, shares a selection from Upstate‘s literary journal, “The Healing Muse,” every Sunday on “HealthLink on Air.” Neilen is the editor of the annual publication featuring fiction, poetry, essays and visual art focused on themes of medicine, illness, disability and healing. Read The Healing Muse Cafe Blog.
Today‘s selections are "We Were" by Jeremy Gadd and "Sleeping With My Sister" by Zoe FitzGerald-Beckett. Order your copy of “The Healing Muse” today.
Deirdre Neilen, PhD: Some of our most visual and poignant poems are those describing family members. Sibling love. Here are two from our latest issue.
First is Jeremy Gadd from Australia, who offers us a portrait of opposites when young, but now finding common ground.
Here is "We Were":
We were orange and apple,
yin and yang, chalk and cheese
as children; quiet to your loud,
near to your far, circle to your square,
sharing only unruly hair and shelter
from the storm of parental repression
and mutual amusement at our
teenage indiscretions but, now,
more bonded in dying than
in life by a genetic disease,
we share more laughter than depression,
more love than any previous sibling aggression.
Zoe FitzGerald-Beckett is from Maine, and she takes us back and forth in time to pay tribute to sisters' love. Here is "Sleeping with My Sister":
We were sleeping together again, rain drumming
on the roof. Rain and tears in torrents, and the salt
and sweat of love's labor to save her. To vanquish
all fears, and the monster growing in her brain.
Our childish fears often drove us both out of bed
in the past. Her fear of everything. My fear our parents
might disappear. We'd meet in the dark and cling together,
crying and comforting, in whatever bed would have us.
Our grown-up fears were in bed with us that night, silencing
the hard questions. What is her brain tumor doing? Is there
nothing left we can do? Truth banished to the darkest
corner. No answers but the drumbeat of rain on the roof.
She was the beauty of the family; the baby sister who followed
me everywhere, sure I knew everything. She always asked, Where
are you going? Can I come too? I'd say, Yes. Sometimes. Or, No.
Leave me alone. That night I prayed, Don't ever leave me.
The rain was slowing. Her voice a drifting mist. She said, Listen,
it sounds like music. What does it mean? Knowing nothing, I
could only ask, What? She said, The back and forth, the back
and forth. And I could only whisper -- O, Pioneer. O, Dear Heart.