Bodies on Stage

18 August 2019 in Theater, Writing


There is a skeleton me I rarely meet. She jangles and dangles through the farmer’s market and down the aisle to her seat at the opera, pieces becoming suddenly unhinged in the direction things are meant to come apart. There is the muscle and fat me that is always aware of her. My mimic, my delay. My repetition, my echo.


This body is a signpost, like the one in my brother’s backyard pointing to all the places he and his family have visited. The foot slides forward, toward Tibet. The pinky finger escapes sideways, to that small bakery on the Rue des Martyrs in Paris. Palms flip up, returning to the San Francisco Bay Area. Shoulders twist, one to the sky and the sparse Antarctic, one to the earth and the ash memories of a dinner at Manka’s Inverness Lodge. The miles are obscured, but the directions are clear. This body signposts outward, to paths I’ve travelled or have yet to sojourn.

Partner Dance

Us going in directional unison didn’t work. We thought this seemed an elite way of being, to move in sync—forward, up, back, down—together. But “together” was the awkward grinding problem. It would take the end of us and miles of time walking, alone, to admit we were best in opposition. The definition of us as “well-oiled” was not two smooth gold bands of circumambulating promise. Rather, our best purpose was going big, going small, apart and away from each other.

Magician’s Assistant

She climbs into the magician’s box knowing what comes next. One, two, three, and he pulls the saw clean through. Her legs are the first to escape. They run away stage right, down some invisible steps, out the blue gate, through the garden, and over the horizon. There go her legs, setting like the sun. Meanwhile, back in the box, her torso struggles to decide. Maybe escape is not the answer. Maybe wait. Maybe her legs will return. Maybe lie here unmoving. But her mind says: No. Go. Slide like water through the seams of this box and seep into the ground. Let me escape, at least.


The horizon is old and knowing like a deep blue scar. I see all I want galloping westward toward it, even while the thunderstorm of others’ opinions renders my body unable to follow. The horizon is in agreement with me. “I’ll hold your secrets safe!” “I’ll keep naysayers away!” I sleep facing west; otherwise, insomnia. In the east, the horizon sleeps, and I cannot bear to look back on packed up yesterday. The western horizon is tomorrow in my hands. Shape it, set it down, shake off the storm, and stumble towards the next accident.