My sister says the word beautiful
beautifully, which would be a trite
bit of business or perhaps
a piece of passing disdain,
a dismissal of one sibling
by another (and with not much
of a flick of the tablecloth at that),
but it’s not, because she does.
It would be more convenient
for the writer or brother (or whatever)
if her natural talent was saying sprayed-on,
parsnip or plurality,
manganese, perhaps, or potter,
or, separately, but in a similar direction,
if she said her special word,
this beautiful, in some other,
if also truly remarkable way.
If it fell frightening off her tongue
or was laughable, dented, orange,
but it’s not, it’s, well, beautiful.
Not dainty or prettily done
like an arrangement, just so
(flowers, not marriage).
Not flirting or damning or false,
just, oh I don’t know, what else.
Reverent and full and believable
and more than anything,
upon whatever she should say it of,
be it dustbin lids or underfed pale ponies,
bedsores or broccoli, it’s true.
You can hear it and she speaks
not as pronouncement, but as if in awe
apart from the speaking part.
It is a quality I admire in her,
but one that I have only valued
in the last ten minutes when her voice,
imaginary yet perfectly remembered,
came into the silence of my head.
How is it for fifty years
(bar a few at the start typically given away
to the learning of language)
one cannot hear something
until one does?
I have this thing that is mine,
and I like to know, not often,
but perhaps once a twice a week;
who else in the radius of a mile
or within my own tongue or
the world at large (and these variables
are always dependent on the question)
is at this same moment making love
or a breakfast involving marmalade,
going mad, listening to Mahler for pleasure,
struggling with unsuitable shelves or
considering cabbage (or the plunging of this
body as if a knife into cold ocean water)?
Mostly, of course, this sudden wondering
mirrors my own doings or dread.
Now I wonder, again all about me but differently
because it is a question of the past,
how many times (before I realized my sister
conjuring of this single word
is magical) have I heard her say it
without a second of recognition?
How could this be, but also