Blueprints for an Older Sister (The First Thing I Remember about Living)

by Samantha Deal


Begin with the original [Her hands bone-thin & paintbrush soft.
Her hair horse-mane & heavy]
                     What else is there
for you to know?   [She was a drape of curtain
—dark, too close to black]
     Later, you knew her as one knows

 the shadow of a porch swing.  [Canvas-clean, pale & dry— 
she smelled like October]
                  This is how you reconstruct  
a human architecture                  how you redesign a loved one   
[Grass-stained ring of earth and sky]        What is the first thing

you remember about living?  [Feathers & dirt: she always
knows how to float]
              This is how you fell:  shoulder over
shoulder—                     down the hill into the neighbor's yard. 
Later, you would understand:                    it had nothing to do

with gravity. [Just fold your arms]               It was about a blue
background— It had everything to do                    with flying.



You will find the negative plastered to the bathroom floor.
Careful not to rip her anemic edges—she's been here
for hours, unfolding across the blue tile like water

without walls—nothing to keep her tissue-paper lines
in place. What to do with the wake of her back? Her face
all full of white? You must remember—these layers

of silent sap are sensitive to light—you will not be able
to alter this print, you can't hold this heap of Turnball blue
and you know it. She's been thinning for years and all

you can do is keep track of dark corners, hold on
to her muddy traces.  Something is always lost
in the flux—what will she be? After you've mopped up

this pile of grief? Her wide, Western eyes? Didn't you say
that she ought to have been born in a place with more sky?

Samantha Deal's poetry has appeared, either in print or online, in the following journals: Cold Mountain Review, Inkwell, Ninth Letter, The Journal, Dogwood, and The North Carolina Literary Review—where she was a finalist for the 2012 James Applewhite poetry prize. She also has poetry forthcoming in Elswhere.