By Jen Bryant

I wake up every morning
To Janis Joplin.

My sister, Denise, has a life-size poster of Janis-
Janis-mouth open in a scream around the microphone,
arms raised, hair frizzed out wildly,
an anguished, contorted look on her face-
thumbtacked right above her desk,
which is directly across the hall from my bed
add one hundred percent dead ahead
in my line of sight.
Janis is the first thing I see when I return from sleep
and reenter reality.

In a normal house, the simple answer to this would be:
close the door. But I do not live
in a normal house. I live in a tumble
down, three-story, clapboard Victorian
where the rooms get smaller as you climb the stairs,
mine being barely larger than a closet and having-
like all the other rooms on the third floor-
no door (Dad says the former owners, who went broke,
used them for firewood before they moved),
across the hall from my sister, who’s nineteen
and who believes anyway
that walls and doors “interrupt the flow” of her karma,
and so of course this leaves me no choice
in the matter of Janis.

When I pointed out to Denise
that my future mental health was probably in jeopardy
because of it, she just sneered and said:
“Get over it, Lyza- you’re already a Bradley,
so mental health
is out of the question for you anyway.”

Whoever said “the baby of the family
gets all the sympathy”
was clearly not
the baby.