Sister Death by Laura Madeline Wiseman

We know it’s time to visit again.
      We can see her house, the one at the end

of the gravel road, has festered in darkness
      long enough. The cats leave the dead

voles at the door. The dogs whinny at the invisible
      fence. We can tell you now the walls

were hollow, talk in an upstairs room could be heard
      in the basement if one stood still by the bar

—head tilted, face pinched to listen.
      It had always been her house. We lived above

and she lived there, our sister, blood—
      same narrow hips, same small eyes—

as she rolled in bed, the springs moaned
      and then only the rhythmic ticking of nothing.

What did we used to think could be done there?
      We pretended to eat, attended her parties, and kissed

whichever men. Like hell, we were used up,
      barren, spoiled fruit, infested.

We were smart. We knew those near death were easy.
      Remembering the body’s temptation, we offered

the red fruit, the knife, the pipe. Here, she said—we said—
      go ahead,the sweetness running from our hands.

Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of more than a dozen books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). Her books are American Galactic (Martian Lit Books, 2014), Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience (Lavender Ink, 2014), Queen of the Platform (Anaphora Literary Press, 2013), and Sprung (San Francisco Bay Press, 2012). Her most recent chapbook is Threnody (Porkbelly Press, 2014). Her newest book is the dime novel The Bottle Opener (Red Dashboard, 2014). With artist Sally Deskins, her collaborative book is Intimates and Fools (Les Femmes Folles Books, 2014). She holds a doctorate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has received an Academy of American Poets Award, a Mari Sandoz/Prairie Schooner Award, and the Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Margie, Mid-American Review, and Feminist Studies. Currently, she teaches English and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Visit her at



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