Roger Sheffer Joined at the Lips We never kissed because kissing entails courtship, an approach before contact, then a backing off and that quick glance into each other's eyes from two feet away that expressesfalse or true-how good it was. He would have been better off as a flower or a tree, inhaling my carbon dioxide and greening, giving off the oxygen I needed beyond what I took in through my nose. His nose never opened, like some late bud twisted into its fear of efflorescence. His tongue held back from speech, if he ever had one, as if he'd been spared the trouble of articulating such strangeness, the grooming of bunched teeth. I'd always feared the clench of metal braces, the dentist's hand working in such tight space. And now he is getting smaller, deflating as if our common breath, and only that, had kept him afloat. As he deflates, his eyes close and I finally see how bad his hair is, dusted with bread crumbs, tangled from neglect, the delusion that everything mine was his. I am thinking: we've gone back to the point of his origin, that birthday when he, my twin, was no more than spit and bubblegum, the strange idea of composing such a companion out of so little, growing him soft and pliant inside my mouth.
The Literary Digest of the University of Idaho