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.