By: Emily LaSita

You sit across from me, but you aren’t facing me

So, I can’t make eye-contact with my audience

I hold my mug in glass hands—there are cracks

From behind your steaming feast, you wink

My mouth, arced in de triomphe, flips upside

A technical smile crumbles the moment your gaze redirects

I force pancakes into my solid sandbag stomach

I swallow and I whisper what I have rehearsed, to leave you

And it is like screaming underwater,

Hoping to see the ballet with your eyes closed tight,

Trying to stop the accelerating train with your hands,

Or feeding the birds with rosin and notes of song

You may as well have mushrooms holding up your spectacles

Deaf, I knew you wouldn’t be able to hear me

I am a coward and a creep and a liar and a wreck and I want you to realize

These artificial flowers I present to you, I myself have become

I am the plastic rose, when you see my face again

I dance in smiles and bites of food

But the curtains never close

And I am forced to perform for you forever


A version of this originally appeared in “Healing” The Teller December 2019 Issue #9

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