Oyster Boy Review 04  
  Spring 1996
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» Levee 67


Elvis's Twin

Denise Duhamel

His tiny spirit haunts Graceland,
no mention of him throughout the estate
except for the inscription on mother's grave
claiming a second son.
No one asks: what if Clemens had lived
instead of dying at birth?
If Elvis was raised by parents who were overwhelmed,
seeing double, rather than protective
and doting? The King's highest aspiration then?
Maybe to advertise chewing gum:
synchronized swimming or bicycle riding
with his identical brother.
Maybe Elvis would have stayed a true blond,
having no need to dye his hair to set himself apart
from James Dean. Maybe he'd spend his mornings singing—
gospel in a Mississippi church choir.
Selling used cars most afternoons at Presley Twin Motors.

His parents wouldn't have ever saved that money
they needed to move to Memphis,
Clemens that one extra mouth to feed.
Evenings, the King would sit quietly on his modest porch
imagining the kudzu around him as people, dancing
to his favorite forty-fives.
Depending on he year and his mood, he'd listen
to James Brown, Johnny Cash, the Carpenters.
A fatter Priscilla would be inside washing dishes
after a hearty deep-fried supper. A sweet combination
of laziness and devotion would stop Elvis
from ever cheating on her. Lisa Marie,
having sisters with whom she could share her clothes,
would become a spokeswoman in the Civil Rights movement.
Elvis would respect his daughter's passions,
but warn her to remain cautious. This different, unfamous Elvis
would have felt small and tired, that one solitary person
couldn't do much to change the world.
It would only have dawned on him occasionally
that he might know a greater happiness. He'd gaze
at the bundles of Mississippi cotton "lint"
on their way to the cotton gin, bundles as big as trucks—
soft, like gigantic loaves of the cheapest white bread.