the doppelgänger

by Karah Kemmerly

Hanne confesses her nightmare to me
in the theater / first my death / & then
the arrival of a new me / a woman with
the same nearly black eyes / with my sharp
snake tongue / dream-Hanne knew the visitor
was an imposter / listened to it berate her
for her grief / this isn’t a loss worth
crying over,
it taunted / temper bright
& unforgiving like mine truly is / its
self-hatred palpable & heavy / you aren’t her,
Hanne told it / & the accusation shattered
its glamour / it shifted / emitted a terrible
shriek / she had to carve its heart out
quickly / before the talons found her / I
laugh at her retelling / unveil all my incisors
in the dark room / but later I struggle
to settle / you are the true form, I tell myself
in the mirror while I put on lipstick / you
must not suffer every iteration that knocks
on your windows at night
/ but when faced
with myself / I never run like I’m supposed
to / never strike quite fast enough / can’t
imagine such a swift & bloody end / I know
the stories say a twin could make me ill / & vengeance
is inevitable / the mandrake girls wander around
with my face / speak my desires to anyone
who will listen / every double is proof I’m guilty
of something / but I want to give them
a chance / even the murderous ones seem
to have so much potential / their blighted
wrists feel so warm & human in my palms / I’m not
sure if it’s mercy or fear that stills my hand / not
ready to admit this body is real / when you see
me again / will you tell me I’m the original / say
I wasn’t replaced in the night / make me laugh
until you’re sure I make a sound that doesn’t echo

Karah Kemmerly (she/her) is a queer writer who grew up in Northern California and received her MFA from Oregon State University. Her poems can be found in The Boiler, The Emerson Review, Roanoke Review, and Breakwater Review. She currently lives and teaches in Portland, Oregon.