Elegy for My Sister

In the park a red bird caged in dead branches
sits still almost frozen enclosed
in a space of nature’s creation.
The elements welcome it by melting
snow, slowing wind, raising the sun
just enough to warm its wings.
Below it on the ground crocuses
blossom, some with a strong purplish hue,
the creek nearby claps quietly against the rocks,
and all feels right in the world—right?
But, somewhere deep in the District
my sister haunts hallways and vacant lots,
never taking flight; sand, cement,
and abandoned cars her perch.
She sleeps in high-rise catacombs,
hollow spaces layered in rust,
cold dark places welcome her and others
searching for atonement,
apparitions to their families now.
Many are forgotten, never mourned,
just bones, then dust, talents never known.
My sister was an artist–
She’d sketch every new face she’d see,
shaping eyes, shading noses,
that’s how I remember her now,
full tablets with charcoal images,
paints and faint memories of what
it was like to have an older sister.

I never could understand addiction,
nothing ever held me like that.

—K.S. Lee


K. S. Lee is a Washington, D.C. native. She is currently an associate poetry editor for the Potomac Review. She is a Cave Canem Fellow, and her poetry has been published in several journals, including Poet Lore. When she is not writing, she teaches composition, literature and women’s studies courses.