On stage the identical twins prepare their instruments, one with burly midnight blue electric guitar quietly growling in the background. The other, all throat, stands front and center, articulates a joke she’s set to memory— gesticulating arms and distracting chatter.
Guitar sister waits patiently, as we sense she has done all their conjoined lives. Tuning her long neck six string as night’s audience waits on their mismatched pillows with their foggy cups of water and red wine. Sturdy knit caps tucked in pockets against late fall weather.
During the show, my friend next to me whispers, Look, their father is singing along.
Following the performance, their mother tells me her girls were born premature, yet, at nineteen inches were two fully formed forces with which to reckon.
I also have a sister typically more constrained, yet she too will tempt the weather, angry and open.
Gauging what comes next with pitch perfect intuition as the moon lugs hard history into view. As hail pelts the garden that she has dug industriously with her husband.
I hear her patient sighs, as she places her ambidextrous hands in her lap. Having reminded me repeatedly that not everyone needs to know all our business—the vowels showering down from my rapid thought and deadline consonants that could kill me. Falling like ice from the sky.
But there is an energy between us that is important.
Room for desperate and contained, for banjo and single snare drum, beans in a tin can shaker, steel pipe piece gifted by a friend for slide. She is the sister who first arrived at the center. On her acoustic Yamaha guitar. As if umbrella utensil balanced and at ready. My front and her back. This fugue panorama, prime key to staying dry.
When one needs electricity, the other will find the stage right aperture. Both of us singing:
Both Sides Now.
One heirloom fabric shared between us, impossible to shred. Middle of the world.
But now it’s just another show/You leave ‘em laughing when you go/And if you care, don’t let them know/Don’t give yourself away. —Judy Collins