Poetry: 'For the Sister I Chose'

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.