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Sister Lazarus

She was my older sister by 17 years
And often took mother's place
For some of those minor
But necessary errands
Such as to the barbershop
Where the men in the barber shop
Would think I was her boy.
We would both play along with our little secret.

I recall that now
As we walk in bright Chicago spring sunlight
Towards the jewelry dealers on State Street
To sell her wedding ring--

Not for the money but as a final gesture
Of a failed marriage to which she had clung
Desperately-till the vodka and the “other woman”
Convinced even her old fashioned Lutheran Pastor
That there wasn't a marriage there to save.

Her recovery from the marriage and the martinis
Crowned her Sister Lazarus till the cancer
Cut the miracle short.

I would drive into the desert on moonless nights
And scream at the sky for taking her too soon.