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Rebecca Cross


Two kinds of people visit our tent:
those who want to know how we are as we are

and those who want to know why.
To the first, our stage is an operating theater,

to the second, a reliquary. We try to please both.
I dress like a patient. I dress like a saint.

A white shift for me, and for me a white shift.
We stand on our stage, looking at heaven,

looking at hell. We’re beside ourselves.
That’s the punchline

to every one of my jokes: Our dog ran away…
We just learned we’re not related…

While I always answer my sister’s questions—
Are you going to move or stay here?

Will you marry or keep as you are?
with, I don’t know. I'm of two minds.

The jokes don’t have to be good,
they just have to give the audience a reason

to laugh. We tell them one sister is virtuous,
the other salacious. One sister drinks,

and the other gets drunk. One eats bagna cauda,
and the other’s breath smells of garlic.

Observing, we’re perfect.
Loving, we’re the same edge.

We speak to each other—call it soliloquy.
We perform a dance of many veils.

At the end, we are veiled only to ourselves.
We ask the audience what they see.

The skeptics say, Proof there’s a God.
The believers: Proof there’s no God.

In our trailer, I remove your costume,
and I remove yours. We eat one small meal.

When we lie in our bed, I can’t tell
if the hair on my cheek is yours or mine.

When we were born, the doctor
told Mother to choose one twin to live.

She’ll be happier without the other, he said.
He didn’t understand, no one does.

Not one of our visitors has seen. We are
proof of each other, proof of ourselves.

The Twins

Rebecca Cross works as an editor in Vermont. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Woven Tale Press, Breath and Shadow, and Always Crashing.

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