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Little Sister

Claire Askew





Askew’s moody yet affectionate musings on sisterhood here flirt with the uncanny, capturing the bewildering nature of attachment.



By now, I'm used to glancing at your face
and seeing you've stolen my mouth.
There are years between us, but like a twin
I know if it's you on the line
from the phone's first ring.  
Only Mum and the cat can tell apart
the turn of our tongues.  
Hearing you speak on tape can stop me dead:
my voice in a box from someone else's throat.

You're the mirror I can never turn to the wall –
an echo of me, only better.  To live with you
is to live with vivid, twenty-four-seven deja-vu.  
One night, I saw our four enormous feet
propped up and crossed on the coffee table rim,
and felt in awe.  You told me once
that as a child you were never sure if I was real,
or some invented friend you daydreamed up.
Nowadays, I pinch myself to check.

You must admit, we're pretty odd:
unkempt and frowning, we live right up
to our name.  Uncanny as mimes,
our gestures all match exactly.  
Your ears are like mine.  
Our skeletons – give or take – are the same.
A tiny part of you swims in my veins,
a slick dark eel of your essence
that I both love and hate.  

I can stand in the quiet street
half a mile from your midnight window
and know that you're crying.







Claire Askew was born in 1986 and grew up in the rural Scottish Borders.  Her work has featured in many publications including Poetry Scotland, The Edinburgh Review, The Guardian and The Observer.  She was twice published in the Scottish Poetry Library's Best Scottish Poems of the Year anthology (2008 and 2009), and her poetry has won numerous awards including the Virginia Warbey Poetry Prize in 2010.    



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A perfectly healthy sentence, it is true, is extremely rare. For the most part we miss the hue and fragrance of the thought; as if we could be satisfied with the dews of the morning or evening without their colors, or the heavens without their azure. - Henry David Thoreau


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