You picked me up and packed me in a cardboard box,
so I could watch you
mix the salads and talk to you in my own babble.
The uniforms stitched us together like twins and made us tighter than the yellow and red stars you sewed
on our identical flares. The white walls laughed
at the swear words you taught me
when I was 2 years old. You would put your dreadlocks up in a ponytail for work and I would follow you outside on your break
so you could smoke Peter Jackson cigarettes. At 4 years old
I wanted to smoke too so you passed me one and pretended to light it up. When the telephone rang on a Sunday
morning I would be as still as the photograph I kept on my dresser, hoping
you would say you would be here soon. The smell of chicken stained our skin
like the permanent marker we used on our arms
to draw matching heart tattoos
that we planned to get on my 18th birthday but never did. The day they shut down the chicken shop, our history became my favourite souvenir
to bring out at family dinners. As years went by our bond started to disentangle
like the promise we made to call each other when you left town. The distance between us became wider than the pool where you taught me to swim.
The silence is heavier than the pelting hail
the day we bolted across the road
from the shop to the supermarket. Today, we are like the carton of shattered soft drink bottles that laid in the cool room for days.
Sisters turned into strangers, but to me you will always be
the sister I chose.
Bianca Grace is a poet living in Australia. When she isn't writing she is studying, working and listening to podcasts. Her work will feature in Anti-Heroin Chic in 2021.