Conjoined

by Jane Yolen

Take Two: A Celebration of Twins by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane YolenChang and Eng:
twins,
a miracle,
a curse,
joined at the chest.
Yet the rest
is history,
mystery,
and a bit of love.
They worked in a circus,
left to farm,
married sisters,
came to no harm,
fathered
twenty-one children,
singletons all.
When one slipped,
the other had to fall.

A cold winter night,
Chang died.
In a fright his brother
followed soon after.
Their lives have occasioned
much thought,
many sermons,
a few plays,
short stories,
poems —
and
laughter.

Copyright © 2012 Jane Yolen. All Rights Reserved. From the book Take Two: A Celebration of Twins. Candlewick. Reprinted by permission of the author.

About this Poem

The book Take Two has poems by J. Patrick Lewis and me. We didn’t write the poems together but separately, though we each had a chance to edit the other poet’s poems—carefully, and with love.  Pat is a twin, and I have twin granddaughters, twin aunts (alas, long gone), and twin brothers-in-law. This kind of poem is considered a poem “with occasional rhyme” and is based on the true story of Chang and Eng. Sometimes even a poem will take hours and hours of research!

About The Author

Chlldren's Author Jane YolenJane Yolen, often called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America”(Newsweek) and the “Aesop of the Twentieth Century” (N.Y. Times) is the author of well over 335 books, including Owl Moon, The Devil’s Arithmetic, and How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight. Her work ranges from rhymed picture books and baby board books, through middle grade fiction, poetry collections, nonfiction, and up to novels and poetry and story collections for young adults and adults, too. She has also written lyrics for folk rock singers and folk rock groups, several animated shorts, and done voice over work as well as talk radio.

Her books and stories have won an assortment of awards–two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, a Caldecott, the Golden Kite Award, three Mythopoeic awards, two Christopher Medals, a nomination for the National Book Award, and the Jewish Book Award, among many others. Her poetry has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize. She is also the winner (for body of work) of the World Fantasy Assn. Lifetime Achievement Award, Science Fiction Poetry Association Grand Master Award, the Catholic Library’s Regina Medal, the Kerlan Medal from the University of Minnesota, the 2012 du Grummond Medal, the Smith College Alumnae Medal. She taught for seven years at Smith College, her alma mater, and lectured at colleges, libraries, and schools around the world. Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates.

Also worthy of note, she lost her fencing foil in Grand Central Station on a date, fell overboard while white water rafting in the Colorado, and her Skylark Award–given by NESFA, the New England Science Fiction Association–set her good coat on fire.

If you need to know more about her, visit her website at: www.janeyolen.com

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