“The Sisters” by Mary Aldis

The Sisters

We four
Live here together
My three older sisters and I
In a white little cottage
With flowers on each side of the path up to the door.
It is here we eat together
At eight one and seven
All the year round,
It is here we sew together
On garments for the Church sewing society
Here,—behind our fresh white dimity curtains
That I'll soon have to do up and darn again.
It is this cottage we mean
When we use the word Home
Is it not here we lie down and sleep
Each night all near together?


We never meet
My three old sisters and I.
We never look into each others' eyes
We never look into each others' souls
Or if we do for a moment
We quickly begin to talk about the jam
How much sugar to put in and when.
We run away and hide like mice before the light
We are afraid to look into each others' souls
So we keep on sewing, sewing.


My three old sisters are old.
Very old.
It is not such a great while since they were born
Yet they are old.
I think it is because they will not look and see.
I am not old
But pretty soon I will be.
I was thinking of that when I went to him
Where he was waiting.


My sisters had been talking together all the long
While I sat sewing and silent,
Clacking, clacking away while the lilac scent came in
                                                            at the window
And the branches beckoned and sighed.
This is what they said—
"How did that paper come into our house?"
"Fit to be burnt, don't you think?"
Then the third, "It's a shameless sheet
To print such a sensual thing."
The paper lay on the table there, between my three
With my poem in it,—
My small happy poem without any name.
I had been with him when I wrote it and I wanted him
The words arose in my heart clamouring for birth—
And there they were, between my three sisters.
Each read it in turn
Holding the paper far off with the tips of her fingers.
Then they hustled it into the fire
Giving it an extra poke with the tongs, a vicious
Then each sister settled back to her sewing
With a satisfied air.
I looked at them and I wondered.
I looked at each one,
And I went to him that night—
Where he was waiting.

[ . . . ]


Mary Aldis' poem "The Sisters" was published in the 1916 Others anthology. To read the poem in full, follow the link below: