“On aime mieux dire du mal de soi-même que de n ‘en point parler.”
When were you last at my house — or I at yours?
Tumbling a cruster of brandy, here, by the fire,
I realise it is not only that I want to show
what I have done to remodel this old house, newly bought,
(we have never courted each other’s approval)
it is more that I acknowledge a chafe somewhere
between us. Why don’t you call round sometime?
I’ll get some beer in, we’ll make it a party.
Looking at us, no one would ever have thought
we were twins:
the hour that pushed us out allotted us separate stars,
two days of birth. Yet our differences were distinct enough
to hold us together: your black hair made mine more fair,
olive skinned and active, you emphasised my left-handedness.
We split into the sides of a pattern, then,
light and shadow, or hard and soft, given and gift.
Growing up separately, boys in the one classroom,
we still needed each other, we were both slow
to make friends.
In our shared bedroom I used to read in books
of twins playing tricks of identity on others. I dreamed
epiphanies. If I put my arms round your shoulders
you were embarrassed.
But one night you woke,
choking and dumb, and your shout of fear and panic
came from my throat, summoning the others,
bringing them heavily and urgently in to be witnesses.
Do you remember that night? Just once it happened.
I am asking,
do you remember?
© Thomas W. Shapcott