The Twins, a poem

by janeeatonhamilton

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From ‘Love Will Burst into a Thousand Shapes,’ poetry collection, Jane Eaton Hamilton, 2014

The Twins

We watched TV, my daughter and I

sitting forward on the couch

legs and our arms aligned, pressing

as if we could get a hint

of what it was like to be conjoined

 

Once we had shared a body, of course

but that was twelve years ago

“Look, Mom!” Meghann said. “Only two

legs!” those two words repeating

(two legs, two legs) as the girls on the screen

 

toddled on their two legs, as their

two legs whistled them sweet down

a playground slide. Top-heavy, joined hip

to shoulder, each had a spine

a heart and lungs, but they shared kidneys

 

intestines, liver, blood and also

their red bud of sex. To part

them was to part something none of us

could understand. If they were

sweaters, yanks of wool would unravel them

 

Then they could be knit again

separate but whole

Their mother brought Cabbage Patch dolls to

the hospital, velcroed tight

and showed them how it would be, apart

 

The rip was loud

“Won’t they miss each other?” asked

Meghann, and I didn’t know how to

say I missed her even when

she slipped out of me

 

I didn’t know how to say their pain

would be vaster than the folds

of any mother’s love

I nodded, kissed her and

pulled her close

 

Four days later, one twin died, her own

heart not healthy, not sound, not good

Under my arms, I could feel

Meghann’s beating strong

beating clear

 

The surviving twin craned left

eyes huge

bewildered, thrust

into a too-large silence

On screen, the moment verbed

Meghann clutched me

She’d never seen a look that wide