A Maimed Sparrow

Two sisters:
always in matching dresses
thin flowered cotton, with pinafores and sashes
hung like pillowcases.
Little scarecrow shadows
instead of flesh and blood girls.

Screaming mother:
once, she shaved Téré’s head
because Téré broke a plate.
Not ashamed to bend her daughter’s wrists
in front of me,
their names gargled in her throat.

through the screen of a back window.
It faced the corridor of dirt
where my mother hung our laundry,
where I once found twin kittens
torturing a maimed sparrow.

One day:
she said a big frame slid off of a bookshelf and hit her.
And then they were gone, all of them.
I waited by the back window and mewed
but no one answered, not even the ghosts.