The story goes that my sister
was pushing the baby that I was 
around the block in a carriage.
She was nine with cat-eye glasses
and intensely protective of her little brother. 
A neighbor kid walked up to her as she passed by
took one look in the carriage and said, 
Why, that’s the ugliest baby I ever saw. 

It’s the only time I know of that she threw a punch,
(her ex-husbands may correct me), 
a real corker into the kid’s gut, 
left him on his knees, gasping for air.  

There at the end, hair gone,
mottled-skinned, fetal on the bed,
she looked more newborn
than the forty-four years she’d lived.
I took her hand, gave it a squeeze,
grief pinned a rose to my lapel.
There was no one there to challenge, 
nothing but the air to swing at.