Bio Note: Although I’m a homebody and a hermit, this time of isolation seems endless. I’ve used this great pause to write more and to read books again, as well as submit more of my work. My poetry has appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, and The Nation. I live in rural central Virginia in the woods, alone, still baking bread.
At My Sister’s Mirror
Big sister, tall and black-haired narrow hips pressed to the cracked sink, leans into her reflection, blinking between applications of the tiny brush Sitting on the toilet seat, I watch her perfection unfold memorize pursed lips awestruck at her power The lanky boys she kissed and turned away, nylon stockings dangle earrings, blood-red nails tapping white piano keys, star soprano Waiting for my time and turn I gape and genuflect settling for honor student When in the same year two decades later, we both divorce, my mother says Copycat
Originally published in Voices of Italian Americana, Fall 2003
Thinking of My Sister on Her 70th Birthday
Limbo—where unbaptized babies go. They can hear the music of Heaven, but can’t see God. Slabs of slate, stacked flat, without mortar— a wall I can’t see through or over. I’m too short, too old to jump or climb to the top, wouldn’t use a ladder or step stool. I can hear old Broadway tunes, Streisand and Sondheim, Gershwin, “Carmen.” She plays the ukulele and sings softly, sighs when she stops. She’s never on the phone. No laughter. No other voices. A few years ago, she stopped smoking. Sometimes I can see the top of her umbrella. As I do, she walks the wall every day, doesn’t answer when I call her name. She’s on the other side, knows I’m right here. I’ve walked the wall in both directions. No opening. It goes on forever.
Originally published in Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders Spring 2013
We Were Sisters
My sister doesn’t want to speak to me. She likes to throw all her gifts away. We each have stories of our history. Mine’s different from the one she sees. Who knows how it might turn out one day if my sister doesn’t want to speak to me about what we remember in our family and how our parents added to the fray of the stories of our history. They spurred on sibling rivalry. The things she said I said, I’d never say. My sister doesn’t want to speak to me, says I’m part of her sons’ conspiracy to take what’s hers and break away to tell a false story of our history. Like all, she has her subjectivity, holds anger our blood ties can’t outweigh. My sister doesn’t want to speak to me. We each have stories of our history.
Originally published in Mezzo Cammin, January 2017
©2021 Joan Mazza
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