We uncivilized each other, battled
by slap and pinch and bully,
taught each younger one
to blend, belong, become
till weaned from the language
we’d been born to.
In summer, we rolled watermelons
home along the sidewalk
from the A&P, and argued
over which of us was dropped
into the Danube as if the story
were an heirloom. And we endured
haircuts from our father —
the unintended angle of the bangs,
the way our ears protruded,
how we fumed afterwards.
The neighborhood grew jungle cats
belonging to nobody. One wandered in
and birthed a litter in a corner
of our kitchen — five wasted
wild-haired things we nursed
with bottles from our dolls.
On nights when mother,
corset-cinched like a great insect,
and father, tonsured, leaning
on a cane, went out on walks,
we wound ourselves in bed sheets
draped blankets down our backs
like a queen’s train and strode
the corridors of our kingdom.