Saira

Saira pic in the midst of her

She was born backward in a dark back room

in a blue tarp house in a blue tarp town.

Momma worked sometimes, and drank most times.

Big sister Mara watched little baby Saira,

in the house ‘twixt the tracks and the creek.

Saira watched it all with her intense, wide eyes.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

Baby Sissy came next, when Saira was five.

Mara did her best to bring ’em up right.

Saira did her part, getting right to work,

quiet like a lynx between the shadows and light.

But Saira was a wanderer, she’d be gone for hours;

brought home her first meal when she was turned six.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

The three girls took to schoolin’ when they could,

mostly for the lunch they got there.

Momma drank and fidgeted; Mara was the anchor;

Sissy the flirt, and sassy.

Saira coming home brought vittles for their bellies:

berries and meats and strange kind ‘a tuck.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

She found an old backpack in the woods one day,

brought it home and squirreled it away.

Mara watched it grow with secret things inside,

saw Saira take it with her every time she slipped out;

and she knew Saira was not long for this blue tarp town.

Saira was learning, with no one to teach her.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

Came the morning she took Mara by the hand,

kissed her and looked her long in the eyes.

A caress of the cheek, and she was gone.

Saira and her backpack melted away into the trees.

Mara, stoic and dry-eyed, watched her go,

and wondered if they’d ever see her again.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

The years came and went, and Momma died.

Mara buried her and moved to the city.

She left Sissy to fend for herself, pregnant and belligerent;

most likely to turn out just like Momma.

Mara was washing her apartment windows in June

when there was Saira on the other side.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

She came in for coffee, and Mara noted

the weathered face, the worn hands, the scar,

the animal skin tunic and trousers;

and Saira’s ghost of a smile

that came more easily.

That was about all Mara learned from Saira about Saira, because

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

She gave a slight nod of the head when Mara asked

if she’d stay a while.

She even met Mara’s husband

and listened to him

and listened to Mara

with peace in her eyes.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

Saira disappeared for hours at a time, and

after three days Mara knew that Saira had to go

back to her wilderness, back to her home.

She gave a civilized good-bye, and then she was gone.

Mara went to wash the bed linens, and saw

that Saira hadn’t used them, must have slept on the floor.

Saira always was a little different like that.

 

And Mara loved her.

14 thoughts on “Saira

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