Role Play by Bonnie Carasso

Twisted in a lasso of jumprope tied to a tree

or trapped in another big-block fort, I waited,

ever the good girl, for others to tell me who I was


to be that day, to discover my supporting role in adventures

enacted beneath a Mayflower picnic table, Starship Jungle Gym,

or amphitheater of arching birch boughs down by Swan Creek.


I took my place in more than one kid’s bedwetting fever dream,

big brother nightmare, or little sister fairytale scenario, acting

the hapless victim, while they inevitably reigned supreme.


I let others tell the story, tell me what parts to play, until

that time, at ten, I refused to charcoal my face, ala OJ Simpson,

for the talent show, while my sister imitated Howard Cosell


for the hilarious play-by-play of the Battle of the Sexes

performed for our mother, who loved us and laughed,

but could not save me from the looming humiliation;


and so I ran to a bathroom stall, locked it, and sobbed


until the fourth wall shattered inside of me, the one I hid

Behind, bound in costumes and false faces worn to play

silent roles, too deafened by others to hear my own silence.


I worked to own the story after that, jimmy the loose timber

of my imagination with the same crowbar I would use to pry

up the boards on every stage and set I had let others build around me.