Two Poems by Jessica Covil

For My Sister, After Transition

by Jessica Covil

Hey, sister

I feel like I have known you a lifetime;

and, in a way, I guess I could say

I have known you since girlhood.

So I have written you into memories

of my favorite girlhood rituals—

the ones where we clap out Apples on a Stick

and talk about Miss Mary Mack Mack Mack

or that Chinese restaurant we went to.

You are braiding my hair into waterfalls…

the ones we’ve been told not to chase

but we do anyway,

sneaking past locked doors and off to playgrounds

while parents are tied up in frazzled chords

and the shouting phone calls they feed into.


Hey, sister

Did you know I wrote about you in my diary?

But you can’t get in without the code, the key,

the voice recognition that is too high-tech for me—

so I have to break in too.

I am still figuring out who I am

and how I’d like to sound to myself,

let alone, to you.


Hey, sister

I’d like to tell you about Tyler Brown, or Michael Green.

And no, I don’t know why

all my crushes’ last names are colors,

except that maybe that’s how I feel right now,

all full of the rainbow.

And maybe cuz the biggest way to say “I like you”

is to let someone borrow your crayons

and doodle with you.

(Which still feels true.)


Hey, sister

Sleep over.

We’ll stay awake ‘til the break of dawn

to prove that the Sun is no stronger

than the daughters here assembled.

This is a challenge we take seriously,

whatever uproarious giggling fits might transpire.

We’ll consume gallons of gossip

and a whole pan of brownies if necessary

for the successful completion of this task.

Everyone knows that us girls hafta stick together

and one early snoozer will compromise the entire mission.

So if you try sleeping,

I can’t let you.


Hey, sister

I believe in magic.

And plus, I think we might be it.

I wrote a story about a leprechaun and you liked that,

and you are always coming up with extra hair ties.

And how else would you have known about my crush

when I hadn’t even told anyone??

So we put on mascara to see if it’s true

and wish on every eyelash sacrificed in this endeavor.

We’ve known about spells

ever since our first dandelions—

blown away by our presence,

grown gray like our grandmas

or the lady next door.

We give her flowers, too,

not understanding she’d probably like to leave them

in the garden she’s planted them in…

she’s so happy and smiling when she sees us.

I bet she’s magic, too.


Hey, sister

The reason I have put you in all these stanzas

is because I love you.

And the reason I have re-membered you in these rituals

is because you belong there

and it feels unfair that we just met two years ago.

I mean, did you always know that you were magic?

And most importantly

I am glad we still have braids and sleepovers

and all the movies and makeup

and heart-to-hearts that sisterhood is made of.

You are the girl I was waiting to know

and the friend I’ll always keep,

so maybe we need necklaces that say so.


by Jessica Covil

She is strong, eloquent, brave:

this icon of a woman harmed,

but healed enough to tell what happened.

That thousands, millions of women

around the world

have been made to live in silence

is a testament to this shame

we inherit and keep passing down.


And I would love for every person,

including myself,

woman or not,

to feel like they could share,

that they could warn and transform

and all the things we collectively put on them—

I also know how it feels

to be a token:

to be tasked with

your own spiritual, emotional healing

and everybody else’s.


In my most sacred dreams,

what I actually imagine is

a woman opening up

to tell her story—

on her own terms, in her own words—

or deciding for herself

that you are not worthy

of hearing it,

and her wounds are the latest on a list

of things she doesn’t owe.

That unsilencing is an invitation,

but not her public burden

or even her own private problem.