The Trail of Hair and Toothpaste Clumps

Mon, 02/12/2018 - 13:17 -- isutton


United States

Dear Claudia,

I ask you to close your eyes.

Leave the pans with the plates.

Let the fridge rattle in the background

and the coffee cool in our cups.

As we sit across from each other at this wooden table.

Forget your worries and breathe in my closeness.


Do you remember the first time we met?

I was scared Claudia.

A haunting type of fear

--it followed my feet like a shadow.

Dragging behind me as I rolled my suitcase to your doorstep.

The truth is I didn’t know how to be a sister.

Where was the handout,

the pamphlet,  

the book?


I directed a movie about us in my head.

Joyful guitar music mixed with our laughter,

as we meandered through the streets.

You would help me pick out a skirt

and I would braid your hair.

We never skip through the streets or braid each-others hair.

You spend the days with your back hunched over a book;

while I meander the streets alone.

Leaving the only time we spend together right here,

at this very table.


Every morning we sit together.

I stare into your tired eyes and you stare back at mine.

You listen to my muddles of unconjugated verbs and false cognates;

you never pressure me to be perfect.

You forgive me for leaving trails of hair in the shower,

and toothpaste clumps on the side of the sink.

I expected you to want a mountain,

but all you ask for is a pebble.

I appreciate your limitless kindness and the limited time we spend together.  

Because my favorite part of the day is now,

sitting here at this table.


Open your eyes now and look up.

You probably noticed the clock hanging right above us.

It’s not a real clock,

with arrows for hands,

and a friendly bird that coos on the hour.

No, it’s not a real clock.

This clock is invisible to the naked eye,

but it appeared the day I arrived and slowly

it counts down the days,

the hours, and the minutes,

until I pack-up my bag,

and this moment becomes nothing but a memory.


I am not scared anymore Claudia,

But let’s just sit here for awhile

-- close our eyes once again 

squeezing them tight

--as tight as our first hug.

Ignore the ticking of the clock,

forgetting our worries and breathing in our closeness.

It’s only a matter of days,

when once again I will roll my suitcase to the door,

and wave a final “Farewell.”


With much love,


Your host sister

This poem is about: 
My family
My community
Guide that inspired this poem: 
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 


Need to talk?

If you ever need help or support, we trust for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741