My Sister Passes Me on a Bench at the Zoo

By Misty Urban

February 17, 2020

My Sister Passes Me on a Bench at the Zoo

On a bench in the zoo a girl walks past me wearing my sister’s face—my sister’s smooth, pre-teen face, before acne, before irony, before the long humped shuffle of illness. Skin of pale honey, coffee-brown eyes, spiked lashes, the same coral lip, smirked. In a flash all the hard things that bind me snap apart and I’m a still and floating galaxy, chest blown open to that old, old grief, the ache that outlines everything. Oh, the earthy undertones of her voice, the husky snort of her laughter. Her embroidery floss hair. Her solid legs looped over mine on a bed or a porch swing or beach towel, our skin sticky with the heat of summer, music strumming us in harmonious chords, opening us to the universe. For a half-second I have her back again, twin soul, brilliant ghost, raising one eyebrow at my foolishness. Then the girl walks away and she is gone, and she is gone, and I am gasping on this bench like a fish out of water, like Prometheus losing his liver again to the talons of grief, filled with the breath-stealing knowledge that in twenty years I have forgotten nothing.


Misty Urban is the author of the short story collections The Necessaries and A Lesson in Manners and has other essays appearing in Past Ten, Cleaver Magazine, 3Elements, Literary Mama, and MY CAESAREAN (The Experiment, 2019).


Photo courtesy of Photo by Ilyuza Mingazova from Unsplash.

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