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Cinthia Ritchie

My Sister's Bones

we ran
through fields,
chests bare
and flat as boys',
scabbed knees itching
fierce and good mosquito
gnat spider bites

Running, we ran
from that house
getting away from hands
and feet creeping up the hall,
boogie man, nightmare,
the monster hiding
under on in the bed.

Pasture cool
and dark, shadows spreading
against skin hot
and salty taste of shoulders,
we lick peeled flesh
from each other's backs,
tasting webbed, dead tissue
and clover, dandelions,
the stained yellow teeth of marigolds.

Happy with smells and sun
we never wear shoes,
feet tough and bruised
running, we love need must
keep running, moist woods,
branches sly, nothing around
but silent wind and birds,
the slippery flutter of bees.

I love,
she, sister told me
once, the last time before
he, it came for me,
sheets against my mouth
no sounds nobody knows
I am silent as the creek,
horses in stalls, cows moody
night wanderings.

I love,
she said, sister whose bones
I now carry, eating her ash
two years ago, handfuls
against face lips eyes, so hungry.
I love, she said,
summer then and hot walking
for miles, woods hay crows,
we knew our blood would pound
always in that shady damp heaven

and cool.

Eve in Homer, Alaska

You be Eve,
he said, handing me
a peach because they were on sale
at the Safeway, and he was
a man of thrift and common sense
with a pension plan and health
insurance and nylon socks rolled
color to color in his third drawer.

Peach juice sliding
down my lips, another man
would have licked it off,
but he took a napkin,
dabbed my mouth with the
sureness of a mother,
those pale, smooth hands
casting out my sins.

So I was forced to invent more,
nights the sun barely set
and the waves pounded the shore,
my blood aching with a thirst
he couldn't swallow as I roamed
the beach dreaming of motorcycle
rides and men with wallet-chained pockets,
my skin suffering the bruises
of their slaps, each one welcomed,

In the mornings,
I told him the marks were
from falls. Like Eve,
I understood the enticement
of a lie. I was wicked
and ungrateful, longing
not for the serpent's bite
but its teeth tearing
my flesh as I burned and gasped.
Let the damned apple rot,
I wanted it all:
blood, bone, the white
teeth of muscle shining
my skin with the fallen
grace of salt.

©2003 by Cinthia Ritchie

Cinthia Ritchie is a freelance writer living in Alaska with her son, stubborn cats, and hyper dog. She is currently struggling over the last stages of her MFA. Her fiction, poetry, and nonfiction publications include Conspire, Horse Thief's Journal, Retrozine, Explorations, Clean Sheets, Dare Magazine, Ophelia's Muse, Scarlet Letters, Girlphoria, Ice Floe: International Poetry of the Far North, Inklings, Inside Passages, Mind Caviar, and Sho, with upcoming work in Moist and Thermoerotic. She's also had two short plays produced.

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