Two tonight, resting in the grass, staring at me.
Why do they still surprise me? Even now the garden’s planted,
I take care not to scare them, gaze quietly at their splayed legs,
turning ears. Crave their wild silk touch.
After my brother died, rabbits seemed to be everywhere.
In the snow beneath the spruce, near a hedge behind the church,
while the two plush rabbits from his childhood sat propped
on my bedside table beside The Mill on the Floss—until
I finally re-shelved it, unable to read past the part
where the little girl forgets to feed her brother’s rabbits,
and they die. I lay on my bed and wept for the rabbits, for the sister,
for my brother, who, when we were children, would slap a toy rabbit
just to tease me, laughing when I cried stop, laughing
at how I mixed up what was real with what was not.
According to the Chinese zodiac, Rabbit is the luckiest sign.
The man I married, born in the Year of the Rabbit—how can I
make of his story, a story of luck? His bicycling with friends
that rainy September day, my brother overtaking him seconds before
the car that should not have turned, turned. His wait beside
the dying body for the useless ambulance. Then, our finding each other
at the funeral, burying our memories in each other’s hearts.
Is it possible to unbraid luck from sorrow?
We call our daughter to the window.
Look, sweetie, the bunnies are back.
WHEN I WAS YOUNG
The fields would call, and I would answer. Would walk
for an hour alone through tall grass, or visit the creek
between its lines of trees, sit quiet on the flat rock waiting
for ducks to light or tadpoles to rise through the murk.
Sometimes, the sun shone. Sometimes, I came after supper
and stayed until the first stars.
Did I say I was alone? A girl alone, allowed to wander?
I had with me a borrowed dog, who wandered, too,
nose to the ground. We kept each other in sight, kept close
the secrets of our grass and woods, the skinny creek and
the milkweed pods. Now I live far from that place, where
water oozed into my shoes when the way grew marshy,
where I swung a long stick through the cool air,
and the dog lifted her head to find me.
I want to die on a summer day, like this one. Not in winter,
pressed down in dark and cold, despairing—but just when
a cardinal has zinged from our green-cherried tree and landed
in the neighbor’s overgrown lilac bush, just as a boy has jumped
high enough and straight enough to flip a ball into a basket
with his newly-trained right arm. While dandelions are blooming.
When, from somewhere within or beyond, my father extends
his hand to me, my brother laughs, and all I need to do is step
from summer into summer. Walk beside them again.
Christine Sikorski’s work has appeared in Waterstone, ArtWord Quarterly, Great River Review, the anthology This Was 2020: Minnesotans Write About Pandemics and Social Justice in a Historic Year, and elsewhere. She has been recognized with a Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, Academy of American Poets Prizes, a Gesell Award, and other honors. She has taught literature and writing at the University of Minnesota, University of St. Thomas, the Loft Literary Center, a homeless shelter, and other venues. She has been teaching the Monday morning creative writing workshop at the Minnesota JCC since 2012.