by Janet Taliaferro


my grandchildren, quarrelling in the bedroom
made me remember how much
I hated him.

Three years older, he got to do everything
I wanted to do.

He thought of me as spoiled and pampered
and I thought of him as privileged in that special way
a first born can be.

He was an expert tease, careful to ply his trade
out of sight or hearing of our parents
and sometimes teasing
pushed at the edges
of abuse.

I cried
and earned that superior contempt
reserved for younger siblings.

I raged
and the punishment I felt he deserved
came down on me like red fire.

I competed
but victories came only in their due time
like the driver’s license I coveted.

Life’s eraser dimmed the lines
transformed the hate
into a bond I miss.

I am one day older than he will ever be.

-originally appeared in Northern Virginia Review