The class outlier, I’m not an actor
or a puppeteer. My one practical employment
for what we’ll learn in the backstage studio
is know-it-all correction of other people’s
hands made into sock-stripped mouths, flapping snaps
like baby birds, while mocking someone else’s talking.
More snakelike, I bend at the wrist, imagine eyes
on my knuckles, pitch my thumb down and up to open
and close, all eight carpal bones leery of the shape.
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that
our puppets are peach and phallic, or
that in mine, what little way my thumb
can move is lost inside a cavernous jaw.
The dozen of us stand together, filed by height,
tight like books on a shelf, arms raised
as though all of us are hailing
someone far away, our puppets’
eyes on the camera and our eyes
on the monitor. When my puppet’s
eyes finally meet mine, I remember waiting
to meet the eyes of my first real crush,
relishing the galvanizing moment of connection.
In the monitor, our teacher’s eyes,
his own and his puppet’s, are never anything
but alive – his felted peach husk becomes a species
of its own. And the twelve of us, whether or not
we’re puppeteers, see. Even if we didn’t know
our teacher is the human half of Kermit,
we’d all still note the new presence in the room,
only possible when both of them are there.
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