Bone Deep and Before I Forget are two of a series of poems exploring the loss of my sister to Multiple Myeloma. Bone Deep appears in the anthology, First Press, Collected Works from Napa Valley Writers 2017 and Before I Forget appears in the award-winning, Sisters Born, Sisters Found: A Diversity of Voices on Sisterhood edited by Laura McHale Holland.

Bone Deep
That was the summer we drove to the Olympic Peninsula
and it rained.

I still remember the mist rising
off the bejeweled piggyback plants
glistening on the forest floor and the smoke
blown by capricious gods
in rings around the peaks.

I still remember the smell of green and green and green
unlike any dry California gold I’d known.
Not even our coastal redwoods held a growing candle
to this forest cathedral; my family breathing in the grandeur
and the fresh air from a needled carpet
slimed with banana slugs.

I offered a slug to my doomed sister who screamed
and tattled. Not a lover of nature.

I still remember it was the year I learned to water ski.
But not in the deep, slow welling of motor oil and rot
as I plowed the dark cold of Puget Sound.
But later that summer in the chill
of granite infused melt, a rooster tail of crystal
off my single ski.
And no slugs what-so-ever.

Give me back that summer,
even the tattling sister,
once a water skiing champion, destined
for deep, slow rotting in her bones.

Before I Forget
I need to write it down:
to-do lists of everything
that can’t be done
calls not made
to people now gone.
Cards to send, gifts to buy.
Simple remembrances,
“Hello how are you?
How’d your chemo go?”

Say things
that should have been said.

I want to remember times we
danced under ever-shifting lights
shared secrets;
times we found something in common—
See’s candy
gossip about family.
The times we were sisters.

Before I forget, I confess—
I borrowed your purple mini dress
wore it to rags. And your silk bandanna,
I still have it;
too late to give it back.

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Writing on the Wall with Ana Manwaring