Sonnet to my Sister: For Minnie Mouse
by Caroline Johnson

A tattooed man hugs a cobra at Disney World.
Jugglers balance on chairs and bottles of wine.
Later, Chloe dances in the sand as waves swirl.
Jacob searches for hermit crabs in the brine.

Their mother leaves footprints along the Tampa beach,
a sister looking for answers after a bitter split.
They stop, turn around, feed seagulls, make believe;
build castles, play freeze tag until the winds quit.

Jack Skellington almost stole Christmas that year.
Despite his ghoulish plot, Minnie collected debris–
feathers, shells, rocks, and silent tears.
All these and more she took from the sea.

Bread crusts slip from young hands as the salt stings.
Just like birds, children love their wings.

SOURCE: Previously published in Encore magazine.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My sister, Brenda, with her two kids Jacob and Chloe in Jamaica. Another vacation with Aunt Caroline, with cornrows.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I don’t usually write sonnets, so I labored on this one. My sister went through a traumatic divorce and this poem came to me when I vacationed with her and her two kids in Florida one year. It went through many revisions to get to this final form.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Caroline Johnson has two poetry chapbooks, Where the Street Ends and My Mother’s Artwork, and has published poetry in Lunch Ticket, Uproot, Chicago Tribune, Kind of a Hurricane Press, and others. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she won first place in the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row 2012 Poetry Contest. She teaches community college English in the Chicago area.