If I Could

March 2, 2008
She can hardly spare a glance for me
Nary a word; just a general “I’m so excited!”
Thrown out as if in preparation for her bridal bouquet
Three small words to divide and share
Amongst a gaggle of bridesmaids
Each one clawing and nailing at every syllable
Claiming bits for their own
Leaving me groping in thin air
Not nearly enough to say goodbye

I watch from my perch
Upon the cushion draped with gowns
Squirming uncomfortably from the zippers and the rough beading
Overwhelmed by the squirts of hairspray tickling my nose
Careful not to prod the layers of coiled ringlets
Parading across my shoulders and down my back

One by one, her friends tell her
How beautiful she looks
Laughing with her, farewells masqueraded
As gentle teasing
And I want to tell her, too
To call out to her
To hug her and whisper
Into the diamond-clad ear
Nestled in her honey-wheat hair
Satiny-smooth in her netted veil
Breathe in her familiar smell and experience a rush
Of childhood memories and private, sisterly jokes
Then tell her that I love her, too

I remember when she told me
That one night when she came home
From a dinner date with him
Only a pronoun then, nothing more
Still blooming into a ‘significant other’

She came into the room we shared, already-rosy cheeks flushed
Eyes dancing, she pulled me towards her
And told me that he had said he loved her
Two sisters—a childhood game of “pretend”
Translating into reality for one
I smiled, clapped my hands, enthralled by the
Disney-esque romance of it all
Excited for her dream come true
But wondering, also,
Why her eyes didn’t waltz and pirouette
When I said I loved her, too.
Wondered how my sister
Could love someone as much
As she loved me.

I walk carefully down the aisle
Step-by-step just like they told me to
Emptying the woven basket of pink rose petals
Leaving only a trail behind

As I reach the end, I have a sudden urge
To run back down, grab all the rose petals
And stuff them back into the basket
Press each one and keep them all, forever

And then I see her, light reflecting off her
Swishing gown, round pearls scattered across her shoulders
Floating towards me, her eyes closed
Open, I want to shout, open so I can say goodbye!
As she reaches the end, inches away from where I anxiously stand
I grab for her hand, as I always do when I am nervous
And swipe through air, realizing that she is no longer next to me
Clear eyes, dancing—again—stare out from under her curled eyelashes
Suspended sashaying for a single moment, fluttering into
A solitary wink before they slip to him,
Her lips whispering, “I do.”

I do too! I’d shout if I could
It’s not fair! I’d whine if I could
I’m your sister! I’d cry out if I could
I love you too! I’d whisper
If I could.

Instead, I can only mouth soundlessly
Feeble attempts to recall her retreating back
She turns around once, almost as if she heard
My silent pleas, and she smiles
And mouths back, “I love you, too.”
Quiet, hushed, whispered goodbye
And she is no longer mine.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Happy Dust said...
Sept. 18, 2008 at 1:17 am
I am mesmerized with Chana B. writings. She expresses her innermost feelings .. the detachment from the everyday absorbtions of most teenagers engaged in the modern trends that forces them out of the innocence of childhood. "The Parent Trap" memories...expressed beautifully. The Poem, reflecting on the bride's plans...clothing...makeup...the rose petals strewn...much like the love being thrown...and then given to another....All so beautifully observed with love not lost ... but shared.... (more »)
Sept. 15, 2008 at 4:41 pm
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