Last night I learned my sister died
somewhere in Dallas, June, 2001.
They say she was living in a crack house.
A County Coroner’s report online
listed no kin to claim her body.
I sip my coffee and wonder
exactly how long a good life lasts.
Did it end when she was fifteen
glowing in yellow chiffon?
Ah, I was jealous, a year older, tall
and invisible in my borrowed prom dress.
Maybe it ended when
she left home at sixteen,
got married, got divorced,
two babies later somehow got to Hollywood,
worked as a walk-on, LA sparkly,
visited the Tate mansion one week before
Charlie Manson did, drove to San Francisco
with her new boyfriend and his green convertible.
I worked at a bank, but I’d never seen
so much money. Then the telephone calls came.
Can you take the kids?
Just for a while? And I did
until she came screaming back:
I’m their mother, not you.
She was living on a commune with a rock star,
and so it went. Did I say she was beautiful?
The last time I saw her, she was standing
on a corner mid-Wilshire Los Angeles,
screaming at me, her face twisted up
with I don’t know what needs.
I only know that
I no longer had time for my sister,
not even for a cup of coffee.