with legs swollen
from malnutrition-caused edema
she lay on the sleeping platform
in the family’s single-room hut
listening to her older siblings
bicker around the rice pot
over the meager bit of food
they had to share
their cries of want
and unfairness
and dissatisfaction
prompted her own childlike outburst:
siblings shouldn’t fight
siblings should take care of one another
siblings should share

her statements silenced them
caused them to pause
and ponder in embarrassment
the pleas of a dying four-year-old

I may not have been there
to hear my sister’s last words
but all my life I have benefitted
from their influence