My thanks to Claire Walker for her prompt on Squiffy Gnu asking us to write about siblings…this poem may never have been written without it.
We do not share blood,
we share memories.
A lifetime of growing together
with the closest of parents.
We plunged hands into sweet-smelling
sawdust at fétes,
ran running races, you always behind me
egging me on.
You refused to go to ballet
and I missed you.
Brownies, you did for a bit,
got bored, and I was a Guide
on my own.
I had to take you everywhere,
my little shadow, even on my first date,
a trip to the cinema,
he cancelled because you were there.
You, hitting me with a Scholl sandal
by the coal bunker,
made brave by the presence of your friend
and Pixie the dog.
Dressing up for parties
dancing at local discos,
practising eye-liner, shadow, mascara
until dad said,
“Take that muck off your face.”
Sharing scents: ‘Californian Poppy’
and one with ‘Paris’ in its name
in a silver-topped blue bottle
bought from Woolworths.
Pinching mum’s ‘Mum’ stick deodorant
that made honeyed soft stains
on ‘My girls’.
Laughing about the nit-nurse at school.
Mum saying you needed a bra
more than me, even though
you were two years younger
––that was cutting––
when we were at Burnham-on-Sea
with her…the hottest, burniest
holiday ever. Nivea suntan lotioned
on the sands not knowing
what life was to hold in store.
Polly Stretton © 2016