Ode to My Twin Brother William Who Died at Birth


When I think of my twin brother I imagine I’m living his life for him. I do not imagine myself as a “stand in” for him but rather as a living vehicle for his secret life. I move through the gray, half dead winter with William’s light inside. If I try and explain this I seem suffused with sentimentality and so I never say a thing. Why am I saying something today? What green force has turned in my hands that I should reveal I’m the outward form of his unaccountable life?

We know our thoughts—their patterns—are like musical compositions. The piano stays silent in a concerto and then it returns, its dark notes merging with every stone in the church. How the music has tricked us! The alien mind of Rachmaninoff has swept through the lead gray water of your own brain. The trick of music is that we don’t mind the possession or more rightly “being possessed”. In a period only a few seconds or minutes long we’ll submit to another woman’s or man’s neurological reception of cold moonlight. Oh and we will be lonesome when this extra-corporeal suspension occurs. We are always alone when we feel the mind of another though the trick of imagination is to say this is intimacy. (See Walt Whitman…) We’re talking about an occasion that mimics the loneliness of twins—twins long separated—whether by death or a cultural calamity. There is no loneliness like feeling the twin inside. But stranger still, it’s an ache that’s overloaded with life like a boat that’s too heavy. My twin brother and I are low in the water.

One summer years ago I felt a dragonfly land on my wrist. I saw that my brother’s presence was a light touch in just this way. I did not imagine that the dragonfly was him. I knew that he was inside me. I understood his delicacy. I saw that he was relative to the breeze. He remains to this day like the stitching of sun that falls unaccountably through the branches and I cannot predict the marriage of breeze and light and mind that reveals the pregnant sense that I am carrying him—my twin brother, my identical twin. It would be foolish for me to pretend I understand how he arises. Almost as foolish as saying he’s within me.

Meanwhile the sun makes the broken statues seem to rise behind the house where I am staying.

So I say to my brother the beauty of miracles exists. I have chosen to say this. The dragonfly’s wings turn invisible against the earth.




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