Nicky Beer

Our sister, who is anger

My brother and I wake         to smashed lightbulbs and a bathtub full

of piss                She says the world is covered

in spines        One eye is brown the other she keeps closed

all the time we spend pulling batteries from her mouth

wiping away her unforgiveable language        from the neighbors’ windows

she’s begging for her favorite lullaby again        

the fucks rain down

from town to town         

fuck you little lamb

fuck you little bird

fuck you

Her allergies are contagious        we breathe in

static         cough out mosquitoes

On her worst days        even the air around her head         draws back

with a shudder                I ignore her        He coddles her        

We both fail        to make a difference      still her thumbs

pressing at the backs of our necks            still the restless satellite of her gaze

What else to call her footsteps pacing the floor

above us        but the sound of shame

We have memorized it perfectly        Oh how we have

Her hands        surprisingly small        fit so inexorably into ours

like sunlight into a sleeping eyelid

like teeth clamping onto bone

I say he’s her favorite                He says I’m hers

Nicky Beer is a bi/queer writer, and the author of Real Phonies and Genuine Fakes (Milkweed, 2022). Her first two books, The Diminishing House (Carnegie Mellon, 2010) and The Octopus Game (Carnegie Mellon, 2015), were both winners of the Colorado Book Award for Poetry. She has received honors from the National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell, the Poetry Foundation, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She is an associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver, where she is as a poetry editor for Copper Nickel.