Fantasy or Lies?

April 11, 2012

Photo courtesy Martijn Hendrickx

Some of us have more active fantasy lives than others, but all of us have them. Here Karin Gottshall, who lives in Vermont, shares a variety of loneliness that some of our readers may have experienced. [Introduction by Ted Koosner.]

More Lies

Sometimes I say I’m going to meet my sister at the café—
even though I have no sister—just because it’s such
a beautiful thing to say. I’ve always thought so, ever since

I read a novel in which two sisters were constantly meeting
in cafés. Today, for example, I walked alone
on the wet sidewalk, wearing my rain boots, expecting

someone might ask where I was headed. I bought
a steno pad and a watch battery, the store windows
fogged up. Rain in April is a kind of promise, and it costs

nothing. I carried a bag of books to the café and ordered
tea. I like a place that’s lit by lamps. I like a place
where you can hear people talk about small things,

like the difference between azure and cerulean,
and the price of tulips. It’s going down. I watched
someone who could be my sister walk in, shaking the rain

from her hair. I thought, even now florists are filling
their coolers with tulips, five dollars a bundle. All over
the city there are sisters. Any one of them could be mine.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by Karin Gottshall, whose most recent book of poetry is Crocus, Fordham University Press, 2007. Poem reprinted from the New Ohio Review, No. 8, Fall 2010, by permission of Karin Gottshall and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2012 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

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  1. Oh, Kathy, that is so sweet! Thanks for choosing it for us.

    Kathy M.

  2. That's incredibly sad. I have four sisters and a brother. I miss them all and get together with them when I can. To have o sibs or children in ones life sounds horrible to me. I would tell a person like this (supposing they confided in me) that they just earned an honorary sister.

  3. "Honorary" sisters (and brothers) rejoice!

    Does it really take blood to be a sister or brother to someone?

    I think not. It just takes love....

    Lovely poem!

  4. Timaree--I don't have siblings, but have plenty of other family and "honorary" sibs. (The author of the poem would be lucky to have you as her sister!)

  5. Laure--Absolutely--love is what makes the relationship bloom. There are plenty of genetic siblings who don't get along at all!

  6. It's a lovely poem and also a beautiful photo. I think our close friends are better than sisters, although without a real sister, it's hard for me to know.

  7. Same here, Cheryl. I sure don't know what I would do without my close friends, though.