When my twin sister and I were young our mother was a dress-maker. Beautiful dresses were all around us, dresses we weren’t allowed to touch, dresses made of crepe, cambric, calamanco, faille. At night we wore nightgowns mother sewed us from sack-cloth and imagined how those other dresses might feel in our hands, against our bodies, wondered if lace skimming up a thigh might sound like the deliberate unhurried tearing of the thinnest parchment. On our eleventh birthday, mother gave us each a pair of patchwork wings, sewn from leftover scraps of fabric. With needle and thread she stitched the wings onto our backs. Our school uniforms had to be let out to accommodate the wings which, even when folded, brushed the backs of our ankles. I remember how my sister and I held hands as we stood on the ledge of the attic window, how we soared into the sky, how our wings knew what to do, how our mother’s voice calling for us to come back shrank to a tiny point, like the volume on a stereo turned down too fast.
Shivani Mehta was born in Mumbai and raised in Singapore. She moved to New York to attend Hamilton College and then earned a Juris Doctor from Syracuse University College of Law. Her prose poems have appeared in Narrative Magazine, Coachella Review, Cold Mountain Review, Fjord’s Review, The Normal School, Midwest Quarterly Review, and Painted Bride Quarterly. Shivani is the accomplished mother of toddler twins. Incredibly, they sleep long enough to allow her to write prose poems. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, children, dog, two cats, and several fish.