to 5

    on the 5ives




Every night I hear my sister on the staircase flexing her toes and knees. Every joint pop is flung up against me, her toenails cracking and splintering off, until it's too loud to sleep and I'm dropping from my window like jesus and running my heels raw across the asphalt.

Even outside, two blocks, ten blocks, three weeks from home, her noise is too much. She's cowbell slinging her fists against the wall and knocking new holes to reach
for me.

I hear, a few streets down, skirted knees bruising the tile in the church. I'm lulled by the whisper of palm to palm and I'm grazing across the grass of that churchyard where each soldier blade is head to hands below my feet.

I hear last April, kids dancing after prom. The paper burning back on their cigarettes cracks like heat lightning and rain is the beer dripping from their chins. It's yellow April rain and it's nails against my skin. It's the sound of those kids padding through the churchyard grass.

The park bench cry is my skin rubbing off on the ground, leaving pink lipstick scars on my knees. I told my mother he'd pushed me, left out the part about the deafening rattle of my thighs nudged yawning and my no don't. let's not.

Then later the train track and the train as I searched on my stomach, by the park bench, for my skin stripped off from the ankles up and lost in the lawn behind a church.





margaret sullivan