the curve of her spine falling
like rainwater. the smell of whiskey
in her hair. a dirty gold braid longing to be loved.
this is the twin that sleeps above me on feathers,
ivy scholarship and clear wrists.
she stuffs her secrets, her smudged fingers into her pillows
and tries to slumber them away.
but i know her head churns
for what jesus tells her not to,
like the monkey in her lab
always crashing against the glass window,
throwing itself at the walls for freedom;
she holds him on a stick and his name is zeus.
she is the shadow i have lived in since birth,
clinging to her for breath;
in art class, she held me by the arm
to keep my brush strokes even when i shook volcanoes
from pills prescribed to stop their eruptions.
she would tell me that god had a purpose for all of this,
but she stopped saying that when her father’s brain
went static. she started abstract paintings then.
she rose from the ashes like a phoenix,
naked and unafraid;
she was given a monkey to test her theories on,
the ones she published at 19.
a textbook highlighted with parkinson’s beneath her head,
her thumbs and toes tingle
from nerve damage. the doctor says it’s caused
by a lack of sleep,
she says it’s because she’s experimenting on a thunder god.
alyssa hanna graduated from Purchase College with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in History. She was nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize and was a finalist in the 2017 James Wright Poetry Competition. Her poems have appeared in Reed Magazine, The Mid-American Review, The Naugatuck River Review, Cholla Needles, Rust + Moth, and others. alyssa in an aquarium technician by day and lives in Westchester with her fish and lizards.