Pacing Myself and Elegy for My Sister


Pacing Myself
             in memory of my sister

All my hot breath, I used up running,
vapor between wires and towers,
sheen of numb sweat, knees that swell
above the bulge and divot of roads.

Where is there to go but in ever constricting
circles that lead home to the living room,
sphere of ashes wrapped in cloth
that holds her tidal scent.


Elegy for My Sister

I tried to be for you the mom
we didn’t have:
go to the doctor, send me the bill,
call me with the diagnosis.

What you needed was a hand,
to rub your shoulders, ease the velocity
of your hips always roaming
the rainbowed, out-of-reach city,
karma you couldn’t reverse.

When you jumped,
it split me in two.
Half with you in heaven,
the other half fully on earth.

I never said goodbye
because I didn’t know I’d have to –
an ordinary fall night, chill under my collar,
sneeze-spray of stars,
water a gleam, then a wall.

Clara Silverstein is the author of the memoir White Girl: A Story of School Desegregation (University of Georgia Press) and three cookbooks. Her poems have been published in journals including Blackbird, Paterson Literary Review, and The Comstock Review. As a journalist, her articles and essays have appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered, in Runner’s World and The Boston Globe. She directed programming for the Chautauqua Writers’ Center and teaches at Grub Street in Boston.


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