She is off white, right? Off white, exactly right. Not exactly white. Which white exactly? Which
fraction white? She is visibly off white. She is a visible fraction. Her visibility though minor
is divisible, right? Rather, her minor visibility isn’t visible enough exactly. She is white-
washed, right? She is exactly half white, right? Half white exactly. An exact
fraction. She has privilege, right? Her privilege is off-white. Not exactly
right. She is not not privileged. Not exactly. Not an exact fraction.
Each fraction takes space. Each fraction takes too much
space. She takes place in too many spaces. She is
half. She is an exact fraction. An excellent frac-
tion. Each half exactly half. Exactly. She
numerates, she denominates, she
divides, she fractures
But she says she is not half.
Rather, she is two.
She has two voices:
one sounds like this
the other sounds like this
(or sometimes like (this)).
The tone of each voice
is nearly identical in pitch
so when they sound in unison
and they always do, the difference—
the slight difference in frequency
generates a beat.
to maintain her pulse,
the vibration of her heart
and language is a consequence.
She is the hum in the room,
two voices, a constant orator,
no thought escapes sound.
Even in sleep
she must murmur:
a hummingbird’s heart can beat
twelve-hundred and sixty times a minute
to support the whipping
of its wings. But I think
the wings beat the heart.
Her two voices cinch
both halves: the chamber
that pushes, the chamber that pulls.
Maria Tessa Liem’s writing has been published in The Malahat Review, Soliloquies Anthology, Petal Journal, and on the Metatron ÖMËGÄ BLÖG. She writes, reads, eats, and sleeps in Montreal and sometimes tweets here & here.