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