Cheap rings turned your fingers green,
divorcing from chilled skin
in shades of moss and aventurine;
emerald always was your favorite color,
mine was infant pine cone.
stern and somber under bent nails
you trashed yourself with tin can jewelry,
tacky streaks of burnt orange
where sunshine kisses used to be—
don't you know that cancer can find you
People sip at white pillars
toppled over in their fingers
and you keep breathing heavily,
mottled hands pining for that slim cylinder
even though I know you quit last summer
when a funeral tugged you home;
temptation never stays away for long,
moldering lungs wheeze against white marble,
the temple of some god you found last week
loitering underneath a crackled overpass.
Whisper thistles grew up around us,
childhood wrists bound by vines
as we evolved,
resolved to be the ones who got away
if only our mothers hadn't confiscated
ground glass daggers we imagined
into our pockets.
I spun mine into flax when I was old enough,
threaded through my hips
the milky pale reminder of oppression,
but your thorns matured embedded in thin skin
until forgotten, life immersing everything
in analgesic, so indecently exposed.
Tiptoe, torn away from amnesty
even though we're sisters still,
it's just too different to be away
a year and nineteen days in subtle silence
where raindrops froze onto our eyelids
while we slept.
You called me drunk one night,
slurred the accusation indeterminately
when I tried to tell you headlights were inimical;
you walked into a street to look much closer
and it died against your shins,
falling dim to cast the blood in black
but you came back eventually,
in time to sleep.
Mascara streaked, you're walking,
high heels gouging sterile sidewalks
as leers wind about your ankles to stumble,
clinging to a cheap purse;
a mistress of the moonlight if you ever were,
licking at the gleaming boots of need
so black and bare.
Rainbows fade to runoff,
your lips glow in butane once again,
white smoke rising in surrender
to the fender of a nearby taxicab
as cigarettes sparkle on new asphalt
slick with you.