Communion from Issue 84
How not unlike Communion was first love—
you and I in the church kitchen, Sunday donuts, a dove
etched on our hymnals. You revered the law
like God, so we were hesitant when touching. We saw
each other’s nakedness and knew we’d only go so far—
splayed diagonals of limbs forming a fleshy star.
One time for a joke you took the blessed econo-jug
of leftover Concord Grape, sad and store-bought. Smug,
you drank, then wiped your mouth, carnivorous, bloodstained.
Still, I took a swig. It tasted ordinary. That explained
it all. The crumbs of love were also small: denial and restraint.
You held one hand up like an Old World saint,
bowed your head, leaned closer to bestow
a kiss like the All-Mighty, who cannot be told no.
The Mother Of The Conjoined Twins Explains from Issue 84
A mother knows when daughters are too close.
I felt it from the start, how their new limbs
folded too-tight—wet moth wings or paper fans.
I knew their milky foreheads pressed each other
as they floated there like prayerful fruit,
their seahorse-selves stretching my self to silk.
I heard their private whisperings,
not the normal deep-sea language of twins,
but something tense, high-pitched
like dolphins’ cries against tuna nets.
Their fingers curled and uncurled, tiny
sea cabbages, always holding one another,
their salty lips blooming into a kiss,
perpetual, insistent. I felt their half-plum hearts
shushing each other, felt the flex
of their shared shelf of hip, the tide of each flip.
Their very wombsong was plaintive,
the wordless keen of kelp, a whelk’s mourning.
I bore them like I bore an underwater urn
planted inside me, raining my own tears
onto the moonscape of my belly
for them to listen. The half-shells
of their lids stayed shut, blind to my plush reds.
And when finally the doctor wrenched
them out, sleek bluish fish, I saw
translucent brows furrow, how they cast
only one misshapen shadow, and I wanted them
unhinged, cast off, thrown back.
Years passed, and they were gone,
but even now I feel their weight
ripping me in two when I dare touch
that empty four-sleeved Sunday dress,
when my heartbeat double-mutters to itself,
or when the gibbous moon turns to watch me
with one of its pale faces.