When I was small, I tried to out-sleep you,
my older trophied and ribboned sister.
I would wait under covers to hear your footfalls
descend spry and light in your room upstairs.
Like cotton thickened to flannel, their weight
rose as they pressed complaints from thirteen steps.
Today, the white-coats claim they cannot name
what you have—too strange for one so young, this
disorder found only in older lungs
that breathed too heavy air of industry.
They shrug, glance floorward, shake their heads and shift
their weight from foot to foot: we just don’t know.
Restless and pacing down the hallway, I
check my watch and hear you coughing—awake.