It was Edna who taught me how to braid hair, who held my own long strands in front of me, pulled & twisted,

                                          until I learned how to watch myself without feeling tender
                                          or shaken that something of mine could become a new thing,

that I could pull my hair & change myself. My sister took all that dark dedication upon herself, tugged the brush through my head,

                                          demanded that I keep very, very still. In the mirror
                                          I see only plaits that jet out from my skull.

I picture myself dead in this way, as if I’m frozen in water, plants stolen from my grandmother’s garden, pieces of aloe, bits of lantana

                                          working through the wild arcs & tresses the color
                                          of a bird’s foot dipped in her jar of ink.

On her desk, a gold box holds stamps. I take the tiny foot, write letters from the other side. To my sister I say, I miss you like an ache

                                          inside my eyes & the eyes must see & to see is to know & to know
                                          is to feel & to feel is to be—but to be without you, what a terrible angel

hosting darkness—no longer really knowing what it means to be or to feel or to know, but recalling mostly hair & words & she

                                          who showed me how to bind some fragment of myself,
                                          how to secure what the wind catches, tears apart.