my baby sister reminds me to enjoy being young


Marshmallowy fingers

Palms echoing lamely like rubber toys against plastic tables

     Swollen and indented

My teacher holds my wrists away

And tells me

     I am not young anymore

“You cannot act two-years-old”

When I am nine


I am out on the playground

My pink spaghetti straps struggles to find any hold on my tiny shoulders 

Slick with sunscreen  

Jello rolling down a bowling lane

I feel sweat between the skin of my arm and my side

And feel my whole body

Like a motley collection of spit and paint covered doll parts

Underneath a pile of tulle play clothes


We go inside

To a new classroom

Half our class is gone

We, now girls, are told 

You are changing”


A shrimp platter at Christmas

Do I like shrimp?

I swallow it whole

And tuck my complaints into my turtle neck—

Where it hurts my throat

I do not say why

But I tell my father I do not like it 


It is four years later

The same party, the same shrimp platter

My father has forgotten I do not like shrimp

 and he asks again

I respond, how it hurt my throat all those years ago

And he laughs

“Silly girl! You aren’t supposed to eat it whole!”

I learn I like shrimp


I’ve now shown the world I do

But suddenly I feel like a fish

Pushed harshly onto grating sand and pebbles

Gills forced to open to the sky


What face will the surface see?

I tell my mom that at my next eye appointment

I want black frames instead of blue

They can see me now

It makes me wonder

Will I be the same thing all together?

Can I learn to breathe when I think

one day I am meant for water

and the next

I am meant for air?


               I am my sister’s doll

She practices braids in my hair


Tomorrow she is going to college

But she tells me she feels even younger than me


And so

I let her be young.

I keep her that way in my mind

     And there,

               I braid the hair of a younger girl too

                                         And let her whisper about the world to me