I take my understudy to the mall surrounded by highways and concrete. I feel stupid standing next to myself. My own image reflected back like a mirrored mannequin. I never knew my face was a branch. “I am not myself” means even the escalators weep as they march forward. A stage has been constructed inside the mall. A small crowd gathers, their faces covered in swan feathers. Our two voices carry across the stage. Wherever the arms go my hands follow. More likely my wrists are empty and hang like electrical wires. No, that’s not right. I can’t carry. No. I can’t fill the bag with constantly scattering snowflakes. My understudy is uncomfortable with my inability to stay focused. What is wrong with the dog I’ve become? I can’t memorize the new script unless each word is made of sugar. My mind a mob of bees. I point to a flower growing from the ceiling. My understudy studies the seams of our costumes as we move across stage like two trees.
CARRIE BENNETT is a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellow and author of biography of water, The Land Is a Painted Thing, Lost Letters and Other Animals, and several chapbooks from dancing girl press. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and teaches writing at Boston University. She lives with her family in Somerville, MA.