Sister -- a poem by Colin Kelly


You’re my sister,

the second child of three,

one of two sisters.

You were the competitive one,

always competing,

as if we were in some sort of contest.

I don’t know why it had to be a contest,

I never felt that way about you.

You were the one who was always sullen,

always irritating,

always disagreeing,

always arguing,

always bossing,

always fighting.

Acting as if we were always teasing you,

as if we were always criticizing you,

as if we didn’t like you,

as if we didn’t love you.


It seemed to me

that you thought that our little sister and I were like bookends:

hemming you in,

constraining you,

constricting you,

restricting you,

controlling you.

You struggled in this self-defined prison,

a prison that existed only in your mind.

You fought to escape, but the boundaries that held you in were just us,

a big brother and a little sister who loved you,

who were not able to understand you,

who, when attacked, fought back,

confirming your flawed understanding of us,

of who we were,

of how we related to each other,

of how we related to you,

how you never understood that we loved you.

You reacted by trying to control us,

to change us,

to remold us in the image you wanted us to have,

an image that was not us,

an image that was not who we were.


Our parents didn’t understand what was going on,

there was no way they could understand.

They thought of us as their three children,

their three perfect little siblings who loved each other,

who got along with each other,

who wouldn’t constantly argue,

who wouldn’t constantly fight,

who wouldn’t always be one against two.

But that wasn’t us, the three of us,

and they couldn’t understand.


Time has passed, we have grown.

No longer children, we are now adults with separate lives,

living far apart from each other.

We get along better, we don’t argue, we don’t fight.

We are better friends than ever before.

But under the surface, the few times we get together,

there is still a remnant of our past,

of our childhood,

of how we reacted to each other,

of how it was you against me and our little sister.

We try, your sister and I,

to put all of that aside, to forget the past.

Perhaps as we grow older such things will become less important,

such things will no longer be remembered.

This is what we hope, your sister and I.

Perhaps it’s what you hope as well.

This poem and the included images are Copyright © 2008 by Colin Kelly (colinian). They cannot be reproduced without express written consent. Codey’s World web site has written permission to publish this poem. No other rights are granted.