1. i wonder (2)Sister, you already know what I am going to say. We leave our mother’s womb together.
  1. Our stomachs flower brownly into diapers. Screaming from our cribs, we watch colorful bears bounce across television screens. It is right that a bear should have a rainbow on its stomach. It is right for that stomach to radiate goodwill.
  1. We nap and bite. We choke on graham crackers and enjoy the strange red light of the apple juice glass.
  1. Sister, I want to tell you a story where no one gets hurt. I want this story to be soothing, like the Little Golden books we used to read.
  1. Do you remember those? Quick, happy stories with shining foil spines? I want you to examine my stories’ spines and find only sketches of flowers and bees.
  1. Part of me is always at the table with you, staring at you staring at me, our spoons moving in unison as we feed ourselves butter, milk, and salt.
  1. Our troll dolls’ pink hair rages like brains on fire.
  1. The poet Mary Ruefle says, “I remember, I remember, more than I can tell. I remember heaven. I remember hell.”
  1. If I can have a heaven, I’d like to request this: you and me, Sister, curled up on your bed, reading chapter books together. This, upon consideration, is the happiest I’ve ever been, and if we could do that, sailing through the clouds together on this bed, lost in our books about plucky preteens, if this bed could travel to and from all the ghosts of all the people whom we loved while on this Earth, then that would be a pretty good heaven.
  1. Sister, I fall in love without you. He slips letters in my locker.
  1. Twenty years later, he kills himself.
  1. Music of the middle-school bathroom: the rustling and ripping of pads.
  1. I wear sparkly red lipstick. A boy hugs me hard at a dance, and I keep thinking about it. You, sister, what are you doing? I don’t know.
  1. I always know.
  1. Our grandfather dies. We go to Mexico for the funeral. Our aunt sobs pobre papi pobre papi as we wait for his body to be cremated. I make my father promise that whenever he dies, he must visit me as a ghost. Does he remember that promise? What is my mother doing while her father burns? I don’t know.
  1. The boys in my grade are so hungry. They love shit-pellet ground meat.
  1. Porn is static on a television. I hear grunts, and every now and then, a thigh emerges from the soup of ants and snowflakes. I wish our cable was better.
  1. Sister, I fall in love without you. He is a Russian boy with whom I have nothing in common. But he is the first to breathe into my ear, so I imprint upon him, and it is duckling on duckling for a long time.
  1. Still obsessed with the Russian.
  1. You already know what I am going to say.
  1. We leave our mother’s womb together.
  1. This is the earth of our mother’s death.
  1. If you scream long enough into the throat of a flower, the sound will travel down the flower’s stem into the ground. You can speak to the dead this way. Try it, press your lips against a flower.
  1. It’s silly for flowers to act like trash, just scattered over the Earth like careless beauty, so if you sober up a few roses with your news, don’t feel guilty.
  1. This is still true today.
  1. Grief is always in New York City for me. My friend says, “You can walk down the street, crying, and no one will even notice,” and this is incredibly comforting.
  1. I don’t like to go back to New York.
  1. In Texas, the sun tries to boil me pure.
  1. Sister, I fall in love without you. I find my giggle-cult of women, but it is strange to form love with words instead of eyes. Sister, our eyes navigate the tightrope between us.
  1. Dearest, come to the Midwest with me. Let’s invade this land of soft snow. Let’s strap our cats to our chests because we don’t have babies yet, but maybe someday we will? We speak to our cats like our mother spoke to us. My sister, where are you? Where are you?


Leanna Petronella’s poetry can be seen in Beloit Poetry JournalCutBank, HTMLGIANTLa Petite ZineElevenEleven, and other publications. She holds an M.F.A. from the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas. This is her first nonfiction publication.

Photo by Marcia Krause Bilyk