Looking closely, I saw that the window
was very clean. She must’ve just washed it. My sister
is fastidious. When I watch
her I don’t even realize she’s tidying up, getting every spot
on the counter, making the green
floor tiles gleam. She rewards herself with a cigarette

each time she’s really finished something up. Each cigarette
vanishes and it’s on to something else. This window
is spectacular, even for her. I could reach and touch the green
fields, all wet and bright. It’s absolute perfect crystal. My sister
finished this and went on to another spot.
This was just a few minutes’ work. Her watch

ticks loudly on her wrist. It’s an antique watch,
a gift from her long-gone lover. He gave her a cigarette
case too, engraved with birds. He gave it to her at the little spot
where they used to go. Well, it’s the only spot in town. A café with neon in the window
and little tables with candles in the back. My sister
has these two gifts from him. And a poem inked in green

on a piece of expensive lacy paper. Green
ink was an odd choice, I thought. I began to watch
her closely after that, after he disappeared and left the poem. My sister
held herself together. We sat and each smoked a cigarette
after she read it. It was snowing. We sat by the window
and smoked, though I don’t smoke, and watched the snow fall. One spot

of snow stuck to grass and then more and more did, each tiny spot
blew down from the sky and gathered with the others whiting out the lawn, green
just a few weeks before. She sat at that window
every night for a week to watch
and see if he would walk up the path, stopping to snub out his cigarette
by the mailbox before ringing as usual, asking for my sister.

I always get the door. It’s a deal we have. My sister
gets the phone. I like to see a person if he’s going to put me on the spot.
She doesn’t mind being put on the spot so long and she can finish her cigarette
if she’s started one. Our old rattly green
phone rings and she goes to it without a thought, checking her watch
as she answers, newspaper clutched in her hand from wiping down the window.

This time the phone is him. Her cigarette falls and her watch
hangs heavy on her wrist. The spot where she stands goes dark. I pull the window
Shades and go to the porch; my sister stands holding that receiver so cold and such an awful green.