Extras

Watermelon is what we would mouth on stage when we wanted to make it look like we were talking, its

vowels and consonants conveniently aligned
just so:

Creating the illusion of babble. Muted. An artifice
of conversation.

Watermelon, watermelon.
Watermelon? Watermelonwatermelon!

The tongue curls, the lips purse. Oh?

Watermelon.

We would take each others’ hands and waltz on stage

All mustard polyester and
Character shoes

And if we did our job right you
wouldn’t even notice us

We were set pieces with beating hearts, sweaty palms —

The maroon-red nail polish called “Vixen” I would
remove and re-apply to each toe each week, dollops of thick, coagulating blood

while the
stereo played, (Big bang baby it’s a crashcrashcrash)

Or the haircut he got the week before which
kind of made him look like Eddie Vedder, maybe, all tumbled curls like that and
Her wisdom teeth removed, the swelling in her cheeks just beginning
to subside. It still hurtsth, she’d say.

Watermelon? I’d reply.

Sometimes we would stand behind the curtain before our cue and take deep, calming breaths
through the nose, or else we might faint/hyperventilate:

Peeking through bright slits to watch the
audience monster shifting colossally in its seats,
a heaving, rustling, crunching, sighing
just beyond the brink —

inhale inhale
inhale here
we
go

And everything is lights.

Silence, but for our feet,
shuffling gently on painted floors.

Caked with makeup we would swirl as slender ghosts
just bodies, bodies in the background, now:

Watermelonwatermelonwatermelon.

Water!

What is that you say?

Melon! Watermelon!

Watermelon?

Feigning surprise, disappointment, laughter, humanity —
dancing soundlessly on the sidelines.

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