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Author: Jim Vincent Viglione
Title: My Sister
Type of Work: poem
Source: CMv2 #10

Copyright 2003 Jim Vincent Viglione


It was hospice she said she needed
She needed it for her pain
It was in hospice the she wanted to die
Not only with dignity but with her beauty

Her beauty came from deep within
She was my sister
Her name was Josephine, but
I called her Feno

In grade school she was the lunch giver
How my anger raged when she would cup my cheeks in her hands
How annoying when she would take my plate and send me
Back to school

Then in High School we passed each other on the city busses
She on one schedule
I on another
How I missed her hands cupping my cheeks

My father’s forehead in his hands
My mother wringing her hands
Seems my sister was moving away
A baby was to arrive

I off to the Army
She off to war
Raising a child and a husband
God! I kept thinking she deserved so much more

She stayed in the East
I went to the West
Thank God for long distance and the
Many letters that we signed ‘with love’

There was a problem I heard
Something involving her eye
No need to worry as a simple removal
Had solved the problem

Doubled in sorrow I cried until I was told
It was OK
The cancer was caught
Contained in one eye

It wasn’t much later that my
Sweet cheek squeezer had to endure
Another removal
This time her breasts had to go

Then West met East
And we did our favorite thing of visiting old graveyards
And eating all the sea food that the Atlantic Ocean
Could hold

The ‘call’ came; the dreaded ‘call’ came
She asked for hospice because it seemed that
The fucking cancer had moved to
Her brain

God, her fear was incredible
With visions of ‘white things’ going through
Her mind
Fear of me, her children, of everyone around her

Later her fear turned to accept what was to ‘accept’
We ate Chinese
We watched a penny tree with fluttering copper leaves
We cruised the woods on a gurney

We listened as others died around us
We tried to find a mirror when she said
“What do they think? That the Devil might be looking back?

White became a good color
And not fearful at all
Her grandson said
“I saw a white horse, but it ran into the woods
I couldn’t follow, but
I think it was Grandma”

Perhaps Death doesn’t come as an evil demon cloaked in black, but
Comes as a creature of kindness
Riding a white horse

I love you my cheek squeezer