Lost Twin

A block from the hospital, I see him
on the street: the other twin. No
mistaking. Once you see
a young man die, the shape of that blood
stains you. I knew
he had a brother although this other half
was absent near the end. Guilty desire
to thrive. Who would not choose
his own half-life? Recently

a woman told me many people never know
they were twinned
in the womb although born
alone. These are haunted from time to time
with feelings of loss or burdened with the sense
of needing to account
for more than one life. There are grief

groups for might-be-twins, hypnosis reaching
back to the first trimester. Mediums
who speak to lost fetuses of self
reclaiming forfeited wisdom.

Nurse, gathering the placenta, dismissed
the shrimp-perfect form of another incarnation
blaming the vision
on graveyard shift. A block away, I

see him on the sidewalk: the short, dark
athlete’s hair. The hopeful shrug
of one confident shoulder. I want to call out that I
know him but I don’t stop
him or know him any more than I can
halt or befriend death. Any more than I can
know my identical
sister who swam with me one summer
when we were thumbnail young.

Joanne M. Clarkson’s full-length poetry collection The Fates won Bright Hill Press’s annual contest and will be published in Spring 2017.  Her chapbook Believing the Body was published by Gribble Press in 2014. Her poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in Catamaran Literary Reader, Emrys Journal, Fjords Review, Edge and Pinyon.  Joanne holds master’s degrees in English and Library Science, and has taught and worked as a professional librarian.  After caring for her mother through a long illness, she re-careered as an RN specializing in home health and hospice care. She lives with her husband and three cats in Olympia, Washington.

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