Fright

Print by William H. Johnson, ca. 1942

hough we’re often called polycephalic, we prefer to think of
ourselves as two people with one body, not one person with two heads.  A unisomatic, if you will.”
“Yeah.  We’re two, not one.  I’m me, and you’re you and that’s that.”
“Calling us polycephalic reduces us to a single being.  But we are really two people, forced to cooperate by circumstance, but with differing wants and motives, just like any other two people.”
“Jus’ because when we stand to be counted we have to stand together, that don’t mean we don’t count twice. Right, Shelly?”
“Correct, Michael.  We don’t mean to perturb people but, sadly, many people are agitated by what they perceive as our deformity.  Counting us as one makes it easier to minimize their aversion and the guilt that results from it.”
“Some gets doubly bigoted ’cause we’re both unisomatic and African-American.  Can’t get much more minority than that.  Least I ain’t the onliest.  I got my sister.”
“And I have you, Michael.  United we stand, because we must.”

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This poem is part of a series of works inspired by the Smithsonian Institution’s photo archive, made publicly available on Flickr. If you would like to, choose an image from their collection and create something – be it prose, poetry, audio, or visual art – inspired by it, and send it to snakeoilcure [at] gmail [dot] com.