by Shubha Venugopal
I never knew the empty space under my arm would become a snug cave filled by your head. I never knew I would awaken to kiss my own sweat mingled with yours in your hair.
I find myself tied to you, my hair wrapped around your finger, tucked within your fist. My finger suckled, drawn in deep to fill the soft cave of your cheeks.
My toes curl inward in sleep. I never noticed. But you did, and now, so do yours.
My arm covers my eyes. You watched. And now, in sleep, your arm covers your eyes too. My lips open, as do yours, and our breath blends, dampening night air.
We are identical, mother and daughter, twins curled in the womb of my bed.
When I was a child, lonely and voracious, I would eat, on visits to my homeland India, twin bananas, letting my tongue slide over the fruit that, half way up, doubled itself, suddenly becoming two.
My mother, sensing my isolation, once said, "If you find and eat a lucky twin banana, you will one day, too, have twins."
"Why didn't you eat them then?" I remember, in my longing, thinking.
So I hunted down yellow, mutant fruits, only to find, decades later, a single golden baby in my arms. It didn't work, I remember thinking. All that doubling, and here I have just one.
But I was wrong and my mother was, as always, right.
Now, when I struggle to put on a dress, there alongside me in the mirror you stand, tiny legs spread, arms flapping, your dress hiding your head.
When I eat, the spoon alternates, entering my mouth, then yours. I find when feeding you I am no longer hungry.
When I shower, you squat at my feet, rubber-ducks climbing the hills and valleys of toes.
When I read, you scribble pictures into my books. When I write, you nibble pages, consuming my words.
You lick up lonesomeness, smacking your lips at the taste of salt; I laugh. You laugh, triumphant.
When I look into your eyes, my baby, I see my face, perfect and doubled. Two of me in you rather than the two of you in me I had once, eating bananas, imagined.
I never knew I would not have twins, but would, instead, become one.