My sister Gwyn has been gone almost 8 years now. She’s been on my mind a lot lately. Though Celeste, in Heron’s Path, is not a bit like her, Gwyn did inspire her, the relationship between sisters. She was the bright one, I was the dark. She’s not in the collage, but I made it while she was dying. The little boy is my dad, Leslie Eason, picture taken around 1909 or so.
Madonna is all dolled up. Her glittery eyes look down at the baby
resting in her henna hands. The Queen of Heaven’s ready
for Mardi Gras. Instead, the graveyard stones slant below
her sparkling gaze, too quiet for a party, too white, too gray.
In the other picture, four dancing-girls do what they can
to divert barbarian hoards on horseback, spears full tilt
as they rush in for attack. The girls dream of feet free
on desert sand, far from the soft red carpet of the harem’s floor,
far from the bad manners of these sweaty men.
In the morning, I look through my scratched lens
and sit with Andrew as he drinks chocolate milk.
Must I meditate on death with this child at my desk?
On the decal of the shuffle skeleton on the car we passed?
The white rose so quietly growing on the vine?
My sister drowns in a hospital room. In her morphine dreams,
divas dance on the walls. From chairs by her bed, little black boys
speak to her of heaven. I pray her rose unfurling. Her petals.
Her wings ribbed with glittery adornments.
I think of deserts carpeted with red flowers, the mosaic spots
on butterflies, girls with bare feet spinning, All things transforming
and unfolding. I write HEAVEN in my book and underline it twice.