Sister Death Sits on the Back of the Settee

It shouldn’t be such a surprise. She knew
me better than most people, after all.

So cosy. And yes, in the womb
I gobbled her up and thought I’d won.

But you forget such things.

Behind me like a pantomime catch-phrase –
never where I’m facing. Sometimes
when I’m watching TV, a slight shadow.

Memory plays tricks on you, like that.

It’s inevitable that the settee will sag
and she won’t be able to resist
patting me on the head

the way you would a child who thinks
they’re becoming your equal.

Is it too early to say she will be my best friend
one day? I offer her presents, let her know I love her
but she’s family, knows all my tricks.

She’s taken to leaning into my shoulders
moving with me when I try to dislodge her
with cushions. I don’t want her comfortable
but she fluffs them up with her fists
and puts them back into place
under her elbows.

It used to be a game. Now that she’s winning
it isn’t as much fun.

I know I’ll accept her one day, that the sag
in the settee will feel just right. But sisters
never make it easy for each other. I make
a sudden move so she slips awkwardly,
loses her balance.

I know she’ll forgive me one last side-step
whilst I nip out to the bathroom during a commercial
break, wash my hands of her as I slip out the door
on my way to a party. I don’t invite her.



Hannah Linden is published widely including or upcoming in Acumen, Acropolis, Atrium, Lighthouse, Magma, New Welsh Review, Prole, Proletarian Poetry, Stand, Under the Radar and the 84 Anthology. She is working towards her first collection. Twitter: @hannahl1n