I remember you, sister, before we took
to the trees, before wishbone and flight.

Days when you sang to the radio,
sewed the names of boys to your lips –

unable to thread a future without love.
I wish you’d sent word sooner,

filled up the skies with your news. I know
now you couldn’t wet wool

for the needle’s eye – though still wove
trauma in and out of cloth.

How even-stitched it is given the pattern
of your sufferings, the strands of pain,

the ply of your tale. That I did not see it
coming unpicks my eyes.

Time is what we have now, sister, yes
time to swallow whole what was done to you.


Allison McVety

(from Lighthouses, Smith/Doorstop 2014)