March 2021

Back to Issue 9


By Damen O’ Brien

Strange child that I have borne, globed  

in me like ripe fruit, vined in me like hope. 

My slow twin, nourished sediment and 

patient passenger, who could not cede 

the silent womb, who could not leave. 

My bitter Cain and cold mirror, you who 

were secret confidant and confessor, though 

I did not know that you ribbed in me as 

ravelled knot, ear to heart and lips to lung. 


Strange brother who did not grow, 

what have you wrought in me?  What path 

have I taken by your light touch, that 

you could not leave?  I stand with the mark 

of you on my skin, we sprites who fought 

in the dim well of the past, and I was born. 

Now you have gone.  I wait naked before  

the flat gaze of the mirror and see you there: 

tiny hand upon my shoulder.  Dumb guardian. 


Strange child that I have borne, the surgeon  

took you from my side: a pulp of seedy teeth,  

a gnaw of spine and little else. My misplaced dream, 

melody piping at the moment that I wake. Lost 

and abandoned thought.  What have I hoped 

that did not have the strength to take a breath? 

What have I wished into the world, reluctant 

ghost, scoring your cage with desperate claws? 

Long past childhood, less than a child. 


Strange brother and random pluck of fate, 

cysted error and unfavoured gall of thought. 

When we toy with that beguiling theme of 

sliding doors, untaken paths, we condemn 

the wrong choice.  For you, my feckless child, 

you are what should have been.  You were the 

desired gift that did not bear, the orphan wailing 

in the cruel snow.  By this fading scar of you,  

I am ever your sister, strange enough to live. 


*A 14 year old girl had a tumorous growth removed from her stomach – the remains of her twin that was not absorbed during their mother’s pregnancy.