Ariana Boffey, 2009
A chimera, genetically speaking, is a mixture of two fraternal twins, who fused in the womb and grew into a single body. Some parts are derived from one twin, others from the other.
It must have been in the womb that I first learned to steal from you:
how unreasonable to want so many worlds in one
and disturbing to imagine the womb as a hive (so explosive, sharp)
but worse to have desired the throne.
The Queen bee: honey-fat and spoiled, coaxed into sexual maturity,
Lucky the good doctor got there before I could steal your wings.
The scalpel sliced the uterus: the good child saved first.
* * *
The hive opens its rows to the beekeeper—
all those entrances like hope or someone screaming.
My mother’s body hums as it opens, a low moan:
the fates of her babies sealed as if with wax.
Look at us—your mouth is sewn.
I’m scarred as her soft belly.
Or was the hum the beating of wings?
All I wanted was a pair of my own white feathers.
Instead the doctor’s hand seized my clawing smallness:
born after, like afterbirth.
To have been from the start a body in the wreckage
is to sink forever, lungs heavy with ocean.
* * *
My fetal body hunched over like an early Quasimodo.
Take pity, I ask you, dear one.
My warped frame, cradled in darkness
like the two-faced moon, night-slivered,
wicked & grinning, was fearful.
You too lived in darkness,
but kept its tongue at bay, too pure to be eaten.
Weak, I could not resist the ripe fruit of it:
that I could be whole if I peeled you apart,
merged us into one body, our body,
fusing us this strange, unspeakable form, the chimera:
chameleonic, ideal for a girl like me.
That I could be whole, constant, like a star,
like the moon, the full moon: clear, infallible.
Oh patched, mutant body
I still ache for you.
What would it have been like?
A little more heft for the angel side.
That much is the ache I was born knowing.
I was born falling.
But who would save me now
that cunning so becomes me?
I wear all my scars like badges
sewn into my flesh
repent, repent, repent.