More Lies

Sometimes I say I’m going to meet my sister at the café—
even though I have no sister—just because it’s such
a beautiful thing to say. I’ve always thought so, ever since

I read a novel in which two sisters were constantly meeting
in cafés. Today, for example, I walked alone
on the wet sidewalk, wearing my rain boots, expecting

someone might ask where I was headed. I bought
a steno pad and a watch battery, the store windows
fogged up. Rain in April is a kind of promise, and it costs

nothing. I carried a bag of books to the café and ordered
tea. I like a place that’s lit by lamps. I like a place
where you can hear people talk about small things,

like the difference between azure and cerulean,
and the price of tulips. It’s going down. I watched
someone who could be my sister walk in, shaking the rain

from her hair. I thought, even now florists are filling
their coolers with tulips, five dollars a bundle. All over
the city there are sisters. Any one of them could be mine.

– Karin Gottshall

The poem starts off with a ordinary enough tone, with the poet talking about meeting her sister at the cafe. You get a jolt with the phrases ‘even though I have no sister’, ‘just because it’s such a beautiful thing to say’. Then she talks again of ordinary things, commonplace things – novels, rain boots, stationery, the weather, the price of tulips. As you settle back into those mundane concerns, you get another loaded pair of statements ‘All over the city there are sisters’, and ‘Any one of them could be mine’. You’re left with this poignant sense of loneliness and hope.
You can read more about Karin Gottshall on her site here, and a couple of interviews with her here and here.

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