My Sister's Birthday Poem


My sister is turning 60.

How to celebrate this threshold of crone hood?

“Write me a poem” she says.

“Your poems are so often profound.”

Oh lovely, no pressure,

one profound poem coming right up.


Why does an image of green grapes on paper plates

leap into my mind? I am not writing about that.


I want to write about Rebecca as 

a lover of language, of logos

the right word at the right time

poetry, calligraphy, dreams.


Rebecca as world citizen

comfortably competent on any continent,

carrying her small suitcase

filled with mythos and mystery.


Listen, grapes, I’m working on a profound poem here. Go away.


Rebecca as Keeper of the Path

ministering to the soul’s unfolding

while feeling the sway of elephants beneath her

one elephant for each degree earned:

B.A. M.A. M. Div D. Min.


God damn grapes! 

Fine, I’ll tell your story and then you can go away.


Two sisters, 7 and 10 home sick from school 

and nestled in blankets in the front bedroom.

Green grapes glisten on white paper plates,

oh what luxury.


“Don’t touch my grapes” I warn as I head to the bathroom.

Upon my return I am astonished to see my sister’s plate is empty

while my plate is still piled high with bunches of succulent orbs.


A wild glee arises in my heart, an intoxication of power 

and greed hitherto unknown to me.

I savor every last grape.  No, I do not share.

I turn a deaf ear to my sister’s pleas for one, just one...


When the last grape disappears down my exultant throat

Rebecca unveils the grapes she has hidden.

Her laugh is a sword through my heart.

My hoarding of grapes is about to wreak a terrible 

and immediate retribution.

My howl of anguish brings our mother thundering up the stairs.

“Rebecca what on earth are you doing to your little sister?” she cries.


What is Rebecca doing?

She is teaching the Golden Rule:

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Threshold of wisdom?  Ha! Those sour grapes of wrath 

were a crafty crone’s lesson fifty years ago. 

Happy Birthday Sister!

January 24, 2015Jennifer Armstrong