The Circumstances of My Birth

I heard I was born wrapped in a tumor. Twin death
they called it. Born in my mother’s bed on the fifth
of November, the grass already prickled
into a thousand grey pins. The midwife wouldn’t
let my mother see until they’d cut me
free but still the word got out. Twin death had
teeth, a full jaw. The woman wiped me clean
of twin’s grey blood and lay me on her chest.

Father buried my twin in the grate, gave him
my name, an old trick for the angel of death.
But I can’t forget that jaw, its track engraved
on my cheek, as if my skin was knit running,
for nine months, a millimeter ahead
of that breathless mouth and it can’t quit.