Letter to a Lost Sister, by Ronda Broatch

The rains are coming, so we take grain to the horses
before the river consumes and islands unhitch
from their moorings.

Have you heard our father

is dead? The pastor
who murdered his children in the barn on the hill
still weeps when I trouble the stair dust, touch the
blood-rust of his axe.

Father asked

for you today, for your sweet
potato pie with bourbon, asked for his stack
of Playboys. This sackful of sand is all I’ve left

while the swelling river loosens
our bones, and no amount of fodder will rein in
this appetite.


dear sister,

I locked myself in the upstairs room at dusk,
let the hallowed chill enfold me, beholden
to the pastor’s

unholy moans. I know what you’re thinking.
Only two weeks cold, just days
in the grave.    In dreams

I see you swallowed by the new
moon, a bitter sacrament, mother’s gelding
sweat-drenched and white-eyed beneath you.

Father’s breath stopped

started again. Just remember to heal
each cut you make, leave a trail of grain
to let me know you’ve made it.

I’ve set a fire

in the barn, left a door to disappear through.

Father closed his eyes

when the year was new born.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 1.

Ronda Broatch, a graduate of the University of Washington, is the author of the chapbook Some Other Eden (Finishing Line, 2005).  Her work has appeared in Atlanta Review, American Poetry Journal, Calyx, Dogwood, Diner, Pebble Lake Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and Tiferet.  Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Broatch is the recipient of the 2005 Kay Snow Poetry Award and the 2006 Washington Poets Association William Stafford Award, and was a Pacific Northwest Writers Association winner in 2003. In 2003 and 2004, Broatch attended residencies at Soapstone, A Writing Retreat for Women. She recently completed her latest manuscript, Rib of New Fruit.

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