Sibling Rivalry

By on Nov 16, 2014 in Poetry

1950s boy and girl running with bowl of ice cream

A flame in my throat, so hot
it scalds like cocoa,
my breath a yelp,
an angry stitch in my side,
feet slapping the sidewalk,
saddle shoes too tight,
shorts too taut,
my older brother so far ahead,
cantering like a pony,
all slim and horsehair sleek,
John Wayne tall but spare in the chest,
legs and body chestnut,
racing to the roar of the sun.

A flash at the corner,
and he’s gone.

I falter,
hunch over,
throb for air,
sob in,
gasp out,
legs on fire,
totter home,
fall onto the porch.

He hands me an ice cream sundae,
a dollop of extra fudge on top.
Bare arms barely touching,
we let the coolness in, the sweat dry.
A jump, and he bounds away,
disappears behind the house.

Fingers sticky and cold,
I leave my bowl,
grasp at his shadow,
follow him at a run.


Ruth Gooley has published many poems and has also been nominated for the Best of The Web. She published her dissertation, “The Image of the Kiss in French Renaissance Poetry,” and currently teaches French at UCLA Extension. She loves hiking and camping and all things wild.