A long-ago life still wakes me at night
memories moist in my mind
like early morning dew
or white fog settling on white sheets
too damp to ever dry

Creeping down stairs to see why
all the bang and brawl
leaving the world of my Vogue dolls
dressed as noble princesses

My father holding my sister down
grabbing her red hair with one hand
her skinny leg with the other
my sister tough, fighting hard
twisting and thrashing

As my mother slaps her
to the beat of some unseen drummer
yelling my sister is an evil demon
deserving a straight shot to hell

I hide behind the curtain, silent
as the dressed-up dolls in my room
listening to my sister’s screams
imagining the devil reaching up
to grab her, grinning with delight

But not me, safely concealed
counting roses on the curtains
the memory still smolders
like embers after flames
she was only eight
not so long ago