Narrow was what they called my cousin
who is now as exquisite as the Kenyan
model pouting on the cover of French Vogue,
but before we were of age, I was the pretty one,
light, with good hair, and regular.
In every photo from the seventies
she was my shadow. I’d forgotten,
or never wondered, why we slept
over at my house, but never hers.
The winnowing.
Childbirth striated my abdomen,
while hers remained cast-iron flat.
In the parking lot beside the trailhead,
we share a lopsided hug. She gestures
at the notice of a mountain lion,
encircled and struck through with red.
Hiking together, I can’t match her stride.
The distance between us never narrows.
She stays a quarter-mile ahead the entire climb,
is leisurely surveying a smog-soaked vista
pierced by sky-high hotel bars and the alphabet
of what I know is the Hollywood sign, when
I stutter to the summit, heaving. I accuse her
of setting a deliberate pace. Bewildered, she says,
was this a race? I give in, shamefully gratified.
She might be younger, but she’s alone

Cherene Sherrard-Johnson
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