Peripheral Vision

Dear Anne,

I can see you so clearly out of the corner of my eye,
sitting at the head of your bed,
in the room we shared.
You pause as you pull up the sheets to tell me
“It is best to make your bed as soon as you wake up.”
I listened to you, my big sister, my “I-want-to-be-like-you” sister,
and made my bed faithfully every morning.

We were so different,
you keeping everything so neat
me, untidy, sometimes just to make you angry.
We each had china dolls,
now I have them both and I can tell
which one is yours
carefully kept in its original packaging.

Dear Anne,

I can see you so clearly out of the corner of my eye,
but when I turn to look at you directly, you vanish
like smoke from a cigarette.
And I am reminded
that you are forever gone.

But Anne, I can see you
quirking your head as you order me
to move my shoes


of the family room.

or, standing in front of the Christmas tree


that I use one strand of tinsel at a time.
I laughed at you while I placed
clumps of tinsel on the tree
just to hear you be upset.

We whispered about you being so persnickety
in our pink bridesmaid gowns
with puffy sleeves and angular necklines.
Your two younger sisters
waiting to go down the aisle at your wedding
giggling about how

glad we were

that someone was willing to live with you.

How were we to know?

The man you married
would one day be the man

who would kill you.

Oh Annie,

I can see you so clearly out of the corner of my eye,
sometimes smiling in a lacy wedding gown
sometimes lying on a steel white stretcher
your hair matted with mud from the riverbank
where your body was found
bruises on your face
red hand prints in a constant strangle hold
around your neck.

We were so different you and I.
You so desperate to get married and have children
me so determined never to.
You pulling the family together
me trying to break away
“When will you be coming home next?” you asked.
“I already am home.” I replied
from my tiny apartment in Washington, D.C.

Dear Anne,

I can see you so clearly
dancing with your friends.
You invited us all to join you;
our brothers, our nerdy cousin.

Even me

who backed away from crowds.
You made me feel I belonged
even when I really didn’t.

So, we got to have you for 29 years.
But it wasn’t long enough
for sisters to become friends.
When I visit you at the cemetery,
I run my fingers over you name feeling guilty

and glad

That it was not me.

I thought when I reached 29 I might die too.
But here I am.
My hands still move.
My lungs still breathe.
And I do not know why I survived

and you did not.

And so, Anne, I continue on with my life
refusing to be immobilized
by the depth of the anguish I feel.

He will not kill me too!

As the anger rushes through me
urging me on, pushing me forward
your presence, Anne, seems very real.

And I am sure that I can see you
just out of reach
out of the corner of my eye.

Currently the Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Eccles Health Sciences Library, Catherine enjoys her connection to all the health sciences schools and colleges. She is committed to providing authentic, inclusive, and transparent leadership and is especially grateful to be working with EHSL. Catherine enjoys walking the University of Utah campus and the suburban streets of Salt Lake City while taking pictures of beautiful, unusual, or humorous sites along the way. She and her husband, Tony, have lived in Salt Lake City for 10 years and look forward to many more.

Rubor Participation:
2021 Poem, "Peripheral Vision"