smith sisters i. i could have known you, sylvia. i, too saw the smith catalogue, brown maple leaves like the fall of your birth, october girl in boston, back forty-two years. we could have been smith sisters: i know you mentored freshman girls, as well as mademoiselle and seventeen girls with your life stories. i could have chosen your small women's college, just what i wanted : small, women's, "being born a woman is my awful tragedy." ii. you were so intense, sylvia, so driven by your A's and economics, so ridden for never having stopped to rage your ariel anger into the red morning of your father's grave -- your mother's piano. you never fought, my wishful smith sister, the blue tide of a father's distance, as drained blood is drawn from the extremities to the heart, and a mother's tongue, her tide wall also a lasso. if you knew, perhaps you, too would have burned like a phoenix, enraged would have bowed to this series of <'s in front of this 1, this diminished equation's answer. iii. i came to stanford, sylvia, lured by name and pressed by sea, palm trees replacing oaks academic-cramming still the same. half-way like you, i felt the dog bones of madness clicking in my brain. star student, i could not but fall. the many men, too, nights like pebbles on a river bottom, one in awhile would enchant me, like a snake sliding underneath its prey. i could not but slip. you knew how to make an exit, streamers shining, defiant and beaded with sleeping pills; i took a side step, off stage, leave of absence. iv. men have their influence here, sylvia, as they did there: solid and models. my writing is my arrow, smith sister.