Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.

— Virginia Woolf

As Though We Were Meant to Be

by Kami Westhoff

(parasitic twin to her sister)

 

If it were up to me, I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’m warm in the cave of your body, watching

you suffer in a world where we can’t even be

imagined, your face a fleshy sliver through

my half-drawn eyes.

 

We can’t blame their horror. What a sight—my head

sprouting from your side, hair slick and dark,

gnarled teeth desperate for the bite. Fifty years ago,

our mother could’ve sold us off as the headliner.

I’d let you do the talking, your answers quick

and final as gunfire, blink my reply, blush from the applause.

Instead, we’re treated as though we were meant to be.

You have it far worse—my phantom limbs, desperate

for a torso, hook their toes under your ribs, out of reach

of the cough’s release.

 

But, you are a good sister.

You pinch my hair near the root

so the brush doesn’t tug. In the trough of cold season, snot runs

and you wipe it dry. Twice a day you say open wide

and brush my teeth, sing your ABCs to do it right.

 

Lately, there’s been talk of surgery.

Promises of high success.

We both know our mother favors me,

whispers it so in my seashell ear when you drift off.

She has suffered so much. We will remember you

in black and white, all arms and legs,

your edges smudged like a redrawn.

How easy it will be for her to lift me,

free from the burden of your body,

a real-life bust of the lost one.

 

 

 

KAMI WESTHOFF’s work has appeared in various journals including Meridian, Carve, Phoebe, Third Coast, and Sundog Lit, and is forthcoming in The Pinch, The Dallas Review, and Passages North. She received her MFA from The University of Massachusetts-Amherst and teaches Creative Writing at Western Washington University.

 

The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.

—Cervantes, Don Quixote

© 2016 The Indianola Review