Body, there are many photographs of my twin sister and I in the same moment and yet in opposite postures of tenderness. I am usually looking, an activity in my hand, without pain or spirit. Just looking. Vuyiswa however pulls down-cries-she is a spill clutching the air around us for safety. In one photograph I am the safety she reaches for, in others she stretches all of her lines towards a person outside the image. In another we are little brown bells lying on the bed on top of navy blue pillows with a festoon of dark frills all around them, our sister is a rounder bell, a sound inflamed with fear or irritation, gathering enough slipperiness to roll and run her off this bed and into someone’s arms. Mama still owns those pillow cases, two dark skies I now use to sit the stomach up and read; hush the body which is the hammer with ankles into an ornament in slumber-close to silence.

Mama says, ‘Vuyiswa hated getting her picture taken’.

In another photograph our brother, Titi is trapped under us-two money bags-and smiling. He sits on a leather couch and holds us into his small body, holds us where his missing teeth should be. The three of us together on the couch are trammels-catching the dead and living of our blood in our bodies. We grow out of the couch like branches. I am a looking away branch watching the person or people on the edges of the image probably trying to make us smile together. A toothless family tree. Our sister struggles next to me, inside my brothers thin arms. The soft half-circle of boyhood holds her open arms, her tears, her forward slope. I can hear her crying in the album, at the beginning of a boil. She is one bubble pulling away into many and then she is many; only an adult she trusts can hold her.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *