Nancy Cook

One Sixth

I am one
of six. Sisters.
Nine years, two
months between
oldest and
youngest.

I am one of
the six, fourth
from the top, third
from the bottom,
oldest of the
youngest—

that’s how we
describe things. We live
two in Cleveland
one in Cincinnati,
one in Atlanta, one in
Arlington, Virginia,

and one west
of the Mississippi.
We’re orphans,
our parents dead
twenty-eight and
thirty-seven summers.

Every year we
congregate
in our home town
after Christmas.
We spend
an afternoon

without children,
spouses banned,
just a few
bottles of wine and
everybody’s best
baking. We laugh,

we tease,
we story tell,
we recollect
our mutual past,
the same,
but mostly different

in the ego-
centric plot of
memory. We
never speak
of pay raises,
promotions,

invitations,
kids’ grades, trophies,
jackpots, pounds lost, golf
handicaps—anything
that might suggest
a betterness.

We laugh, we tease,
we downplay and
self deprecate.

But last year,
someone dared to ask
whom our parents

treasured most.
All agree
our mother had
no favorites and
all agree our father
did.

Six names
mentioned.
After much
animated con-
versation,
the consensus was

still too far away
to be discerned.
We would not
agree. So now
it seems that we
are guaranteed

to never know
who won.

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