When I was 26, my parents had my siblings and me sit down
in the living room and Dad told us we had a 22-year-old half sister



Her mom, Bonnie, had gone to law school with my parents
Then, for a while, Bonnie and my mom had worked in the same small town

She and your mother were friends, my dad said
We were best friends, my mom said, interrupting the smooth flow of the narrative
that he seemed to have been rehearsing for over two decades



Because she and my mom were some sort of friends
and my mom worked full time,

Bonnie often babysat me and my brother when we were little


Of course, the child care arrangements suited my dad’s purposes as well



A stretch of time, maybe a year, maybe longer, it doesn’t matter,
elapsed between the day the baby was born



and the day my mom learned, or perhaps realized, who Bonnie’s daughter’s father was


During that time, I’d met the baby,
played with her, held her

Chances are practically 100% that we appeared together in photos, but






The problem I have when I try to write certain stories
is that they break my self in half

Even though I know I was born to smash
all the silence out of them

I also feel

that they’re unworthy of the privilege of being art
that they deserve none of the kind favours that language can do
that beauty is not always truth
that there are times when telling it slant is a copout, a version
of hiding  

Bonnie made it impossible for you to see her, my mom said
Your mother made it impossible for her to see you, Bonnie later wrote to me

We can all agree on impossible

Tell me her last name
, I said to my dad

Having all but abandoned her before she’d finished elementary school,
he did so with reluctance, adding

I’d prefer that you not contact her



I contacted her


She’d known about me all along, she’d been waiting


It turned out we had a ton of things in common
The trivial ones weighed heaviest


She sent some photos
We looked alike, I mean we looked like

I will never pursue legitimacy as a writer
because I know it’s a meaningless thing, an accident, nothing personal, nothing

to do with the spurious
question of what one “deserves”
or has “earned”


Somewhere along the course of our correspondence,
before she stopped writing back,

she told me she still has a teddy bear that I picked out for her shortly after she was born


One of the many things that irrationally haunt me is that I don’t remember
the shopping trip where my mom took me to pick a gift for Bonnie’s baby



One morning a few years ago while walking to work
I found myself caught up in one of those inner interviews where your mind lobs seemingly
random questions at you like

Describe yourself in one word



This poem was published online in anticipation of the launch of SAD Mag issue 22, “Secrets” (Fall 2016). The link seems to have expired.