I entered life an accidental tourist.
My mother’s body served an eviction notice,
But I ignored it and burrowed deeper
Into placental warmth.
My twin, however, weaker,
Entered the world a clotted, bloody,
Gelatinous mess on the white tile
Of a bathroom floor.
The doctor told the man,
Who wasn’t really my father
But thought himself to be,
There was still a heartbeat,
Still a baby left.
I felt the absence of my twin,
the lack of another’s heart
beating a rhythm to match my own,
racing toward emergence, light, life, breath.
A ghost-like memory I carried with me
Always– Even when I, who survived
By claiming squatter’s right
To my mother’s uterus
As it tried to evict me
And who had never been told
Of my twin’s existence, would
Turn in childhood play and talk
To my twin sister.
My mother asking to whom I talked
And I answering—My twin sister.
Now, I recognize my mother’s twisting face
Of guilt as she turned from my childhood answer:
The long walk from the restaurant’s apartment
To the stores on Broadway to buy school
Supplies; the washing down of the restaurant
Walls over and over again; the bed rest the doctor
Said she needed when she was spotting, her body
Threatening to throw out the babies she carried, ignored—
My twin and I, the children of another man,
We had to go.
But I clung, held on—born
The accidental tourist in life,
Observing for my twin,
The twin I still feel.
Sixty-one years later,
Still listening for a heartbeat
In the same rhythm as my own.
Annette Kalandros, a retired teacher, residing in Houston, TX with two French Bulldogs, writes to make sense of things—life, the world, the inner workings of her own mind and soul. In addition, she had been active in the LGBTQ community since was four years old and marched her Ken doll with all his little Ken accouterments to the big metal trash can in the yard. Her two Barbie dolls lived happily ever after. Her work has been included in the anthology, As The World Burns.
You can read more of her write at Hearing The Mermaids Sing