Trudy and Me on the Tube by Mary MacGowan

Trudy and Me on the Tube

We had a truck tire innertube at the lake
for playing in the water. Trudy and I
were grownups with youngsters of our own,
but we liked to stand on it, or try to, one of us
on each side. We’d paddle out, away
from the dock, pushing or pulling the tube,
and stop just about even with that old dock
across the way, falling apart, half submerged.

Our overly-large feet pressing down, toes
curling under to keep the grip, we held hands
across the open middle keeping each other
steady. We never lasted long, but when
we were up we were up, and hollered about it.
We looked a lot alike, but our feet were identical
twins, veins bulging in the same places,
second toe as tall the big one. Hammer toes
for had none & all the way home.

Trudy had all the trouble though, including
a car accident in college that left her in a coma.
Mom in a panic came to me in the night,
shaking my shoulders, Trudy’s going to die,
Trudy’s going to die! She didn’t die.
She’s fine. But, horrors, it was decided
that I had to wear an ID bracelet just in case
I was in an accident in the middle of nowhere
like Trudy’s and almost died for want of a parent
to say, Yes! Yes she’s our daughter, yes she can have
blood transfusions, yes, heavens yes! It looked like
a shiny silver going-steady bracelet
and I thought I might die of embarrassment.

I was far enough behind my siblings
to be considered an only child by psychologists,
of which I had plenty. How I loved holding
my sister’s hands when we stood on that old tire.
And how reluctantly I let go every time we fell.

by Mary MacGowan

Editor’s Note: This narrative poem describes the complexity of sisterhood when one is much younger than the other, and how the longing for kinship stretches into adulthood.