sister by Erin O'Malley

from the late 1970’s to 2013, china held a one-child policy




we are both only children    who had an un / halved childhood.
in this memory—boyhood   unshared bedrooms and twin mattresses
as brother, a myth lived        indented by a single body, but only your life
short term: our mother carrying            was documented by birth /
thank you grocery bags stretched         family / date of / country of / my mother
translucent with you             will always be your mother,
in her belly. on the way                          but your mother will never be my mother.
home, her hand clutching mine             sibling rivalry? my generation is so alone
as if I were the one she’d leave / lose             we don’t even know who / how
to the side of the street, but these    to envy. all we have is the space / our sisters
are just two different embraces for loving / never filled, the leftover air of plastic bags
          your only child- / ren


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Contributor Notes

Erin Jin Mei O’Malley is an Asian American writer who lives in Philadelphia for most of the year. They are the Managing Editor of The Ellis Review and have received a scholarship from the Lambda Literary Foundation and nominations for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Erin’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in DIALOGIST, Rust + Moth, Cosmonauts Avenue, and others. They were born in 1999.