Poems & Essays

29 Jun

Role Play

General/Column One Response

I sit in the audience and watch my daughter role-play. 
She plays the mother:

            Are you okay?  

she asks the woman who plays her daughter.

The woman cowers behind an invisible bathroom door. 

            I’m fine, she mumbles. Leave me alone.

            I know what you’re doing, my daughter says.

            I’m fine! the other cries, 

now more desperate, 
more panicked.  

            I’m fine!

My daughter, playing the mother,
watches the woman playing the daughter. 
The woman crouches, 
throws up into an invisible toilet. 

My daughter stares, 
still and silent. 
She turns to the audience for help:  

            I don’t know, she shrugs her shoulders.
            I don’t know what to say.
            What should I do?

I watch my daughter role-play, 
I’ve forgotten to breathe. 
I’ve been crying, 
holding my clenched fist to my mouth. 

            I don’t know what to say, I whisper. What should I do?

Joelle Hannah lives in Moorpark, CA with her husband and 5 children. She teaches composition classes at Moorpark College. She has been writing and performing poetry since 2005. Her poems have appeared in The Scribbler, The Night Goes On All Night, Bridges of Fate Anthology, Chaparral, Two Words For, Where I Live, Mothers Always Write, and A Quiet Courage. She has performed in various venues throughout Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, including Hollywood Book Fair, Artist Union Gallery, Pat Pincus Poetry Festival, and Personal Stories at Center Theater in Santa Barabara.

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1 Comment

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  1. Kristin

    June 29, 2020 at 5:01 pm

    This is so powerful, Joelle. I am in awe of your talent.


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