In the court of my childhood, I was an Oriental despot.
My rich robes were my frog-patterned pajamas
and my scepter was my sister’s ancient ruler.
My sister was my Schezerhade.
Captive to my cruel fancies till she
turned the table (or the bed)
and began to tell me stories,
stories with the grandeur of the everyday,
stories about break-ups and secret fancies
and somberly, of sudden death
and the school hockey team’s last frenzied stand
in the stadium that was its Thermopylae.
And as my sister spoke and sang,
my bed became a little black boat
and her voice the still black river
ferrying me to my gleaming black palace.
And on the bank I left behind,
my sister stood, a stern, tragic figure
in her nightgown’s grey.
And when they told me of my sister’s death,
I didn’t believe them.
For I know my sister never left.
And each night I look out my palace window
into the blackness of the night,
past the blackness of the frozen sea
with its black boat paused, adrift,
to see my sister on the other shore,
gowned in grey’s most somber hue,
a raven nesting in either hand,
a half-smile on her bloodless lips.