Barbara J. Orton


My sisterís eyes are nothing like the sun.
I still remember everything she said:
I never claimed to be a nice person.

Youíre asking more than anyone can give.
Donít call collect. Donít call me after ten.
My sisterís eyes are nothing like the sun.

Sheíd walk with me for hours, when I was ten,
and lift me on her back when I was five.
I never claimed to be a nice person.

I called collect. I called her after ten.
When she hung up, I screamed into the phone.
My sisterís eyes were nothing like the sun:

she was human, she wanted to live.
Youíre scaring me. Youíre even scaring Dad.
I never claimed to be a nice person.

Thatís it, then, Barbara. Have a nice life.
I donít want you talking to my children.
I had a sister; I wanted the sun.
I never claimed to be a nice person.

Barbara J. Orton
Barbara J. Ortonís poems are forthcoming in Under the Rock Umbrella, edited by William Walsh and Earl Braggs. Her work also appears in two anthologies, The New Young American Poets (Southern Illinois University Press) and New Voices (Academy of American Poets); in a Web chapbook published by The Literary Review and Web del Sol (; and in journals including Ploughshares, Pleiades, and 32 Poems. She received her BA and MFA from Washington University in St. Louis. She lives in Washington, DC, where she works as a freelance editor.



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