My mother and my aunt were twins: Celeste was born forty-one minutes before her sister, Marie. I referred to them as “my mothers,” but the phrase has created problems for me for as long as I can remember. When I was a child I used to say “my mothers” sometimes, to people who didn’t know me well, and either (a) they would correct me, assuming that I was in the grip of some nasty psychodrama by which my singular mother had assumed multiple selves—or, given that we’re talking here about the nineteen-seventies, it’s possible I guess that they might have thought my mother was a victim of so-called “multiple personality disorder,” that psychiatric bugbear which has menaced the public imagination ever since the mid-nineteenth century. Or, (b), which was more rare, they thought what anyone hearing “my mothers” today might think: that I meant one mother and her woman lover.
Sometimes I tried to explain the actual situation, that I am the child of identical twins, and that I never knew my father, but people found this implausible. In the end I let them think whatever they wanted to.