Wedding day—or day before it—
But always someone else’s;
Someone else’s tears, someone else’s smile.
Three times a bridesmaid never a bride.
Never a bridesmaid, never a bride.
Sister’s getting married they said
Only parents get married I think.
I smile when I see my sister wearing a pretty dress.
She always knew how to turn on charm
Like a switch—or button—or both
As if one I may have had younger, she stole
Good looks like it was a process—
That’s why I let her paint my nails,
Probably some shade of red.
After the second coat she smiled
And said to run sink water over my nails
while they’re still tacky she said
It would help them dry.
My big eyes understand all this
And make serious what was meant as a practical joke.
I go into the bathroom and turn on the cold spout.
I’ll never forget the refreshing tingle I felt
All the way through to the tender skin under my nails.
This is important business—
Looking good for a good sister.
I hear her giggle in the other room
As spiders crawl up my jeans with the hole in them.
Bugs in my stomach.
They’re laughing because they’re happy
They’re happy now I’m gone out of their way.
Bridesmaids don’t like flower girls
because they were once young themselves,
and never will be again.
I realize I’m a victim—
That running water over my nails isn’t an important
Step in the process of beauty
But a means to a cruel ends of getting me out
Of sister’s way.