Where are you when you’re pretending to be someone else?

Where are you when you’re pretending to be someone else?

Underwater, or at the laundromat on the corner of 8th and Washington shaking soap flakes to the tune of Who’s Gonna Love You Now. Where does your body hide? Since ‘female’ is inscribed as a site of desire, I am inevitably read as confessional.

 

*

 

As a Dollhouse

It begins with a challenge pulled from the dark bureau. Then there is a country road. I do not know how we got here. There is a long dirt driveway hemmed in by maples. It is overcast, but summer. I begin to watch as if from above. The driveway leads to a large clearing. There is a lead-colored farmhouse foregrounded. The field space to its right is full of hatchbacks, trucks, station wagons. Behind the house is a small canopy; plastic chairs; a long table covered with paper plates, buns, ketchup, mustard; a grill smoking; a crowd. There is an upstairs room at the front of the house with an unmade bed. I do not know how I got here. I see my legs in black and white. The back yard is a murmur. The one who brought me here is far away, through the door and down a crooked staircase.

 

*

 

You talk about dismembering narrative as though it weren’t an act of violence.

The way we write and articulate the body. What lives between an object and an understanding? Articulate is to divide into joints, to utter distinctly. Incongruous meanings, held together in the dictionary by commas. You understand that I have to use the word ‘incorporated.’

 

*

 

What Happens When I Sleep

It is summer and the room is hot. The shade is drawn, only a sliver of streetlight on the windowsill. My toes brush against the crumpled sheet when I move my legs. When I am still, I feel what it would be like to have a spider crawling over my toes. What it would be like if the spider was waiting at the foot of the bed, inches away from my toes. Many spiders, waiting. I can feel their proximity. If I fall asleep, I won’t be able to protect myself. They will crawl over my toes and legs, up my torso, on my face and in my mouth. They will bite me and swell with blood. I will eat them and get my blood back. I get out of bed and go to the dresser. I pull wool socks up as high as they will go. But in the nightgown I feel exposed. I think of the time after a soccer game when I pulled down my underpants and saw the small beetle crawling. The spiders could crawl there too. I yank a pair of leggings over the socks. I put on a long-sleeved shirt over my nightgown, then a ski hat, a pair of mittens. Back in bed, covers up to my chin, I stare down the dark ceiling. My body slicks in the swelter.

 

*

 

The performance is death defying.

I find it disturbing to use up a pen and refuse to throw away the empty. The subtext: an attachment to power. Some people enjoy the hard clack of their heels on the floor, while others prefer to pass soundlessly.

 

*

 

As a Dollhouse

It is summer hot. Only a sliver of streetlight on the windowsill. Toes brush

against crumpled sheet                                       legs                             still,

What it would be like to have a spider crawling

What it would be like if the spider was

at the foot of the bed, inches away

Many spiders, waiting.

 

crawl over toes and legs, up torso, on face, in mouth

bite and sip blood. eat. get blood back.
 

Wool socks high as they will go. In the nightgown

exposed                     think of

the time after pulled down underpants, the crawling. The spider,

he crawls there in the dark.

 

*

 

The gray light builds New England outside my window.

Branches scraping wet glass and wind chimes in the distance. The woman disappears into a suggestion of a woman. Shower water on the skull drums out the question. What does it mean to have a ghost in my scar? Their teeth pick clean my portraiture.

 

*

 

What Happens When I Sleep

Legs murmur lead                        above a crooked space, I watch the yellow pulled low

a wall removed, a bird’s eye
 

a quiet body hemmed in by maples                                  an unmade bed
 

black and white, the reel splitting                                                       Here.
 

The one who brought me here, who is the one who brought me here? Who is the one who brought me here who is far away, who?

 

*

 

You will be the bearer of good news, for a change.

Word as a physical thing. As roofless houses. When I kiss you birds shrieked east. The oscillating fan sounds like molting, and I have to rethink what the story is. Once I read these things aloud, and the boy at the back of the room wanted to know if I meant it. How does a heart function? Opened up for fifty cents a palm or lemonade.

Tell my secrets back to me.

Front page image by bigcityal.

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