Behold the Love of A Big Sister

A free verse poem

My oldest niece Tierney and my youngest nephew, Thyrie. Big sister and baby brother.

I can relate . . .
the happiness swimming across
her face is the same way I
reacted to my first brother
and my last brother and
then finally, my sister.
for the eldest, it never gets old.

there’s always enough love
left for another — always.

I focus on her smile,
simple yet wholesome.
anyone can tell there is
a sense of pride — a sense of
absolute joy as she holds
her baby brother in her arms.

he is comfortable — at ease.
it’s as if he knows, in her care,
he is safe.
the two of them — instantly
bonded, forever.
tears escape my eyes
in this moment of
admiration.

I am putty
for the two of them — stuck
to the love they display,
comforted by it.
this is an aunt’s safe space,
my world of wonder.

I could live here forever.
please don’t make me leave.

behold the love of a
big sister as she cradles
her youngest sibling . . .
does it touch you?
does it strengthen you?
can you relate too?

beauty manifests in various
forms — small packages of
simple photographs become
remnants of peace.
they are keepsakes to
reach for when the
rough seas pull us in.

I’m grateful for them.
I can tell, she is too.

Special thanks to my brother, TJ, for permission to use the above photograph of my oldest niece Tierney, and my youngest nephew, Thyrie. This poem was originally published via Medium.

Getting to Know Me (An Audio Poem)

Community art: Different Women. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

2019 MTV Awards Musical Performance by Missy Elliott

Getting to Know Me

An Audio Poem

My kid sister probes me
for information. She needs to
know more about me.
Our upbringing was an odd one.
I’m more of a mother-figure to her
than a big sister; with 19 years
separating us, she “ma’ams” me
rather than “Ooh, girl” or 
“Child, pleases” me and it just seems weird.

She urges me to open up, to share,
but I’m not really the type to complain
more than I need to or
give more of me than I should.
I’ve learned who to shed skin
with and who not to and this isn’t
to say that my sister isn’t to
be trusted, no, that’s not it.
I’m just . . . careful now.

I want to vent sometimes to her,
I want her to hear me when I’m
in distress, yet there’s this overwhelming
feeling to protect her too
even if it’s from me.
She assures me she’s old
enough to digest what I
dole out but I’m hesitant.

I’ve lived a far different life
and my demons tend to follow
me along my sacred paths and
my sister is still growing,
still learning. I don’t want her
to know the me that drives
people away. I’m still working
on that me.
I need her around.

I’d hate for her to be one more
person I find myself chasing
after; another heart to grip.
People want you to strip
bare, stand naked before them,
but many of them aren’t ready
for the curves and folds and
two-toned skin. They just want
to see more of you even if
more of you isn’t beautiful.

It’s one more thing they can
hang over your head, dangle like
a dagger, cut you to the quick.
I’m trying. I swear, I am.
I ask her to be patient with me,
to understand — I have a way
and my way is comforting.
I can’t be rushed.

She understands.
Thank God in heaven.
She understands.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

I Haven’t Forgotten You

You’re All I Think About

Kids by delfi de la Rua via Unsplash

I wonder who has told you. If you know. If you’ve always known. If you want to know. I think about the right moment to say something, casually bring it up, but there’s nothing casual about coming out — again. I know you should hear it from me, but I am dragging my feet as it has been hard getting them from up under me — I have been sitting on them for too long. You should have known years ago or at least, in October when I told our brothers or when our father called and I confirmed what he already knew in January. Every time I dance around the subject of repeating those words again and this time, to you, I get an ache in my heart. My eyes water. My soul screams.

Everything in me stops.

I see you, but not the woman you are now, more like the infant-to-toddler that you were years ago and I want to hold you close and sing “You are my sunshine” until my throat becomes sore. I suspect that the task has been completed by someone else and you were not given the opportunity to hear me — see me as I spoke those words to you. I hope it hasn’t. I hope I still have time. I tend to sit on precious things, cover them up, then release them when everyone has stopped worrying about the potential harm they can cause. It has always been easiest for me, this method. I am learning to not lean into fear or hide behind it as much as I used to.

You don’t seem to have this issue, but then again, I have only watched you grow up from a distance. Much of my teenage to early adult life was lived before you even began to figure out things on your own. That’s what a nineteen-year gap does to sisters. It pushes them apart without either one knowing it is happening. I can call. I can text. I can pop up at important events. I can do all of this on a whim simply because you ask for my presence, but I can’t even tell you what presses on me more than anything.

I live with the thought of you daily. . . If you’re safe. If you’re learning how to maneuver through life and in the world without someone holding your hand. If your third year of college, now that you’re experiencing it, will strengthen you as much as mine did. You are strong, this is undeniable, but you have been sheltered. If I tell you, will you break? If I don’t, will you do so even more?

Bible, book, faith, and Psalm by Aaron Burden via Unsplash

“Truly, my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.” Psalms 62, 1–2 NKJV

I have missed about twenty Sundays in a row. To sit and count them, to think that my body hasn’t met a pew in over three months, causes me distress, but every time I tell myself that I am going to get it in gear, Sunday arrives, and I sleep in longer than planned. I find peace at my church — strength. I feel what I need to and when I need to there, but my body won’t let me move. My heart won’t, either. I have no idea why. You checked on me first thing in the morning, the other day — said you could not start your day without sending me a note. I missed it. Nearly most of my day went by before seeing your message and by that time, I let the toll of my workday cost me change.

I shared with you my emotions, how I’d been in and out of crying fits, how I am in therapy. This concerned you. You instantly began to worry. You wanted to call me and these days, I don’t welcome phone conversations like I used to. I told you that I was okay, that I’d be fine, I’d only answered your question. I wonder if being too upfront with you will cause you pain or sadness. But, I am growing and learning that I can no longer bite my tongue or hold in what needs to be said based on what the other person may feel when my feelings are expressed. I cannot control the emotions of others. I can only move forward when I feel it’s best to.

There is time. There will be time. I feel that it is nearing. I’d much rather the opportunity to sit you down in my favorite coffee spot, buy your drink and danish of choice, and talk — really talk. I want to sit and be with you, big sister to little sister and spill out what we need to. There are things you have always wanted to share with me and I have things I need to share with you, but distance is our enemy. It won’t be for long. I write. It’s what I do and I have written you a letter. You can sit with my words and I can come out again without even opening my mouth to tell you in person.

After all, when will I ever get the chance?


Originally published in Other Doors via Medium.

The Blood Of Old Souls

Part VI: Lemuel

Courtesy of Prince Akachi

Lemuel’s eyes are fixed on the broken sky. His big sister Cassie is planning to sneak out again tonight. This will be the fifth night in a row. Lemuel is not a snitch, but he’s been itching to get Cassie into trouble since she ratted him out for eating the last thin crust pizza, their Mom’s favorite. This behavior is not what he expects from Cassie, she’s never jumped ship on a “babysitting” gig before. Although Lemuel was thirteen and could practically fend for himself, he was blind. Their parents depended on Cassie to make sure Lemuel’s well-being was positively maintained.

“I’ll be back. I put some leftover barbecue chicken in the oven for you. The timer is set for thirty minutes. I’ve heated up the mashed potatoes and the spinach only needs two minutes in the microwave. Don’t forget to take the aluminum cover off this time, Lemuel. For God’s sake, just don’t.”

Lemuel nodded in his sister’s direction and did not utter a word. The timer dinged, signifying the sweet morsels of honey-glazed barbecue chicken and Lemuel skirted his way into the kitchen. In the dark, dank, confines of the tiny space, he could hear soft whispers,

“Tattletales go to Hell.”

Lemuel ignored the whispers, surely he needed rest. He devoured his dinner, remembering to remove the aluminum cover on the spinach. Before he could swallow the last bite, he heard the chant once more. This time, it filled the walls and filled the cracks in the floor. Lemuel’s parents came barging in the door, one after the other. Lemuel couldn’t wait to let them know about Cassie leaving every night this week when she was supposed to be overseeing his care.

The voices grew louder and louder. Lemuel’s parents gazed at the boy, finally believing his days were numbered. “Cassie isn’t here. I don’t know where she is. And, she’s been leaving every night this week.” He felt a sense of pride revealing his sister’s secret.

“Tattletales go to Hell.”

Lemuel pointed to nowhere in particular as the voices grew louder and louder. He smiled in his parents’ direction and bit down lightly on his tongue before opening his mouth.

“Cassie, she’s been…”
Thunder roared, the floor in their kitchen shook, and hands erupted from beneath Lemuel and his legs were the first to disappear. The souls pulled Lemuel under while his parents watched him sink in a fiery heap.

At that very moment, Cassie walked in. The only thing she could think to say was,

“Tattletales go to Hell.”