…Yesterday I wrote two things while taking a bath.
She wants to go back to before, back to the beginning, prior to this secret death, long before the twins were snuggled inside her womb, a pair of bocce balls, grapefruits sprouting limbs, becoming gangly, alien-looking in medical film, later floating inside her embryonic soup like plucked chickens, as if pretending to be astronauts tethered to nothing, gravity inconsequential, and her feeling their slide and glide all the way up to her ribs, Jim, her husband saying, “Hey, they just moved, didn’t they?”, her thinking they should never have married let alone gotten pregnant, let alone with twins, her a twin herself, always copying Claire’s style, dying her hair blood orange in high school because Claire did, piercing her navel, lip, clit, now married-Claire, perfect-Claire, already bringing over baby gifts before the twins are even hatched, scads of matching baby outfits, Seuss-striped pajamas and miniature spoons, Claire thinking of twins—the concept of twins--as rare, precious, a kind of unbreakable bond between them, no different than the covenant of marriage, Claire happy in hers, Jim now lifting a butt cheek and farting into the sofa, him pale, bloated, dull as alabaster, an unremarkable future staring back through a reflective square in the television’s right hand corner, it becoming a kaleidoscope, then a camera, clicking away at their beige walls and carpets, their beige ambitions, nothing ever ventured, nothing, really, ever gained except an ordinary existence, a death sentence she feels sluicing down her thighs as her water breaks.
…Here’s the other:
How We Got Here
We wear hand-me downs and each other’s shoes, even if they’re too tight and pinch. To save money, father buzzes our hair down to bristles with shears that rattle and sometimes catch patches of skin. We eat in silence, the only sound metal chinking on plastic plates, food being chewed and swallowed.
After supper, we lay on the shag carpet watching black-and-white TV, listening to a family that’s nothing like our own, hearing how happy they are, noticing what a fine car they drive, how big their dining room is.
At night we three sleep on the same mattress. We never dream, or if we do, we never say. In the mornings we rise before the sun and make it to the fields, row after row of the same bushes, flocked with blood-red berries glinting against green.
We work on our knees, filling the flats as fast as we can because it’s cash money they pay here. Afternoons, we stand in line with the other migrants, wilted and sweaty, each person taking his turn, handing over a punch card and receiving berry-stained bills in return.
Years later, one brother steals a car, another brother robs a convenience store, and I break into a house.
Now we wear orange uniforms, sit in similar cells, stroll in sunlight for a single hour each day. At night we lay in cots. We imagine freedom, beaches with chalk-colored sand, a skiff bobbing on waves.