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THE RULE OF PARTICIPATION IN LOVING AN ONLY SISTER / Joyce James You were barely able to pull yourself up to the crib railing. I'd clamp your hands there so that you took your first step at ten months hanging onto the wainscotting. Our parents were busy, going over grain and seed receipts from the rented farm where we lived, where I held your hands and where you stepped away from me. But if you could rent time as you rent space, or even better like electric lines, networked by special right-of-way, I should be able to put on your disease, like a snowsuit, feel my feet, pointed, stretch it on, with my arms into your arms, little finger, index finger, ring finger, middle finger and thumb, put on all the hurt and walk door to door with your pain, scaring children and dogs. Then we could laugh to each other and say it's over like dinner going cold on the table. Perhaps I planned it that way. I saved you once. We were playing, and you fell, your front baby teeth jammed into the roof of your mouth, so I reached in and pulled them out. I want it the same, I want us watching from steamed winter windows and our Mother, looking like a Russian soldier, 36 · The Missouri Review scattering buckets of shelled corn, clumps of Rhode Island hens following her. I want the notched board in the rope swing, our feet denting the sky, our heads reared high, backs arched, swinging wide beside the white pine, the forty-foot spruce in the other corner. Joyce James The Missouri Review · 37 ...


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