KATIE WILLINGHAM

In the House of Doubling,


there is so much cake that Marie Antoinette
             pouts. Even her appetite gets soured by abundance. What good
is luxury without evidence of its scarcity? I take her hands.

I mean it as a gesture of consolation but they come right off
             into my own, snapped at the wrists like
the porcelain doll my brother shattered against a wall

in a fit of anger, the kind only his twin could ever incite. He kicked
             in the womb but I’m told I was quiet. I remember
our paired wonder at meteor showers our father

woke us for in the dead of night. To bear witness
             is a powerful thing, earns some a sainthood. Of course,
only if what enters your field of vision becomes

sacrament. The doll had a pink dress, I remember this,
             but what color was her hair? I heard
the international space station will be visible in the sky tonight

but the forecast predicts clouds
             in both states we now occupy—Michigan,
Virginia—state of wonder, followed by ambivalence—

What to do with Marie Antoinette’s hands? I call my twin
             on Sundays, the Day of the Lord. You know,
the thing about power is very small creatures attack the largest ones

with great success. Parasites, viruses—invisible enemies. I tell him
             about Marie Antoinette and he says there was some debate
about whether to include a photograph of Versailles

on Voyager 1. To indicate what? Our knowledge of symmetry?
             He laughs. We share a fondness for alternative histories. Yes,
the French did try and then kill Marie for treason

but the truth is she’d been killing herself for months
             when they got to her—refusing
to eat, refusing to leave—

 

Katie Willingham is an MFA candidate in the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan where she was the recipient of a 2014 Hopwood Award in Poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ilk Journal, Paper Darts, Phantom Limb, The Pinch, and Whiskey Island among others.

 

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