identity theft

the thing about not having one is that you always have
to get someone else’s: you used to pick up odds and ends
of speech, incorporate it into your own vocabulary, words
for feelings of chronic emptiness and impulses to spend
money and take a razorblade to yourself (although that
has become more of an occasional occurrence now). you
couldn’t spend too much time around doctors because
you’d start quoting whole passages from the DSM about
what it’s like to not know who you are, in clinical
terms, of course. you wore masks for a while but people
could still recognize you by the scars on the rest of
your body, you wore hats but everybody always knew it
was you. and who were you? you tried on personality
types like ill-fitting shirts, thinking to yourself
this is it. this is me. this is who i am. but a button
would fall off or you’d get your sleeves dirty and you’d
have to take it off. underneath was your torso, marked
with dotted lines in sharpie, sectioning off the genres
and subgenres of who you were that day, that minute.
you’d steal the way someone stood as they waited for
the bus stop on the corner, thinking this seems like the
way i would stand
, you’d morph your thinking to match
whoever happened to be across the table from you, you’d
dress the dress and act the act, trying to blend in,
right before you snatched someone’s affectation right
out from under them. you’d go to the zoo and look at
the octopi and the chameleons in their cages and whisper
to them to tell you their secrets. they never answered.

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