PoetryEtc Featured Poet: Mark Weiss   

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There was the little girl I played duets with when I was twelve.
She was breastless, or just beginning to have breasts, her hips
about to broaden.
She was always smiling.
Years later when I met Jeannie
I was reminded of her, but behind them both
was Margaret
Neal's wife
the most beautiful woman of my childhood, who I remember seeing once
and who committed suicide when I was still a young child.
"Alittle sister
at home in my body,"
I wrote, thinking of Mary,
but the sister
in form at least
goes back to Margaret. When I was five she killed herself.
I had seen her once when I was three
in jeans and a man's shirt
leaning against the old wood stove in her mother-in-law's house.
When she died it was talked of at breakfast,
her schizophrenia, her suicide, her loveliness.
"She is breastless and slight
and cries incessantly"
I wrote. I was three years old
when she dived into me.
When I reached puberty she was a fantasy sister to make love to. As I grew older
she became my childhood.

Herbert calls, and pulls me back to myself. For a moment
I am forever loveless, remembering
that you can't sleep with yourself
and wanting to
you don't even see the woman who wears your dream's body.
She becomes a mirror. So
she is dead except inside you
and you will hear of her only in poems
or dreams. There was a morning
after a night of writing about my outward life
when my sleep
was broken
by the message
"she's gone!"    echoing in a stranger's voice
as when I had mourned for Margaret
among the adult's chatter.
But I don't even know who she is.
I bring her poems.
She swims to me through black waters.
In a forest pool, she barely disturbs the surface, beckoning.