TWO POEMS by Sebastian Merrill
inverse twin, lost sister
Like our dead, you live in memory:
our grandmother’s clouded eyes
saw you instead of me. In the cold,
my bones still ache along your long-healed
fractures. I’ve spent years distancing myself
from you, but here, in our grandparents’ home,
I want to pull you close. When the spring
snows melted, I left my apartment in the city,
headed north through twisting back roads
over mountains, stopped to pee, squatting
behind bushes, until finally I arrived here,
on this Maine island. The cottage still
overlooks the rocky coast. Every dawn,
I paddle through the wind-whipped waves
of the Thread of Life ledges, those jagged
rocks the seals love. I find wonder
even in the swirls of floating plastic:
deflated balloons, grocery bags, forlorn
shoes. Do you remember the summers
we spent here? The swimming lessons
in the frigid water, the sea stars
in the tidal pools?
My grief for our grandparents
has grown without you. Also,
all the sea stars have disappeared.
Where do we converge,
overlay each other
like a poorly developed film,
our two images a blur of light and form?
Where and when
do we divide?
Every Sunday I pierce my thigh
with the silver fish of a needle.
Is this what separates me
I inject testosterone synthesized in a laboratory,
made from soybean and yams.
Like magic, it’s difficult to believe
this exhilaration of hair
on my face and chest
comes from plants.
When I thief myself out,
I am halted by mirrors: this beard
that grows miraculous
Persephone, am I the pomegranate and you the seed?
I have no answers.
I possess a tongue, maps,
night. Am I an arrow
from hell? An impossible
bending spoon? Estranged
in this new knowledge
of the earth and the starless
rivers that run beneath,
I can no longer return
to how I was before.
You swear that without me,
winter. But did I choose to hide
the sun from the sky?
Frozen, the ground cracks
with questions. I am still
tossing, pulled between two
worlds. It’s hard to believe
this same sun still rises even
after we were ripped apart.