Apr/May 2016 Poetry Special Feature

On Proofreading Your Sister's Med School Application

by Elizabeth Kerper

Image courtesy of the British Library Photostream

On Proofreading Your Sister's Med School Application

Picture her someday, surgical scrubs and blue
latex gloves, the power to cultivate blood
in unfurling flower petals, then prune it back
to the bed of the body, a narrow seam—that video
you watched in ninth grade bio of a single bud struggling
and blossoming and blooming, that video
when you watched it in reverse. And picture
her now, dissecting a cat, studying the calcified guts
of an articulated human skull or a set of lungs
under a bell jar, shiny as balloons. Picture your sister

on the cantilever bridge she is building toward some distant
point, each truss shored up by things she knows that you
do not—the governing laws of muscle and viscera,
the words you covet for your poems based on sound
alone: rubella, myelin, allele. Picture the books
you might write and the books she will read, the accumulation
and divergence of knowledge, the scalpels, spirometers, ink.

But picture her too when you were little and she littler,
the late drives when you would lay unbuckled in the back
of your family's Chevy Impala with your bare feet
pressed to the driver's side window, how the highway
tilted down into nothing, the sky unfolded, perpetual.
Picture power lines strung between your arches, picture
your sister, your mirror, your hinge, feet against the passenger
window, head on your collarbone heavy as a promise
made over and over, her hair and yours tangled together,
your parents miles away in the front seat, picture
airplane lights just before they slip behind your heels,
picture this, what you will both always know.


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