The Body House

S. K. brownell


You are a carnival mirror,

and sometimes you flatter me.

I am a carnival mirror too: convex

and concave, the stomach, the shoulders,

the apple that dropped directly

to the ground, the bruise.


Carnival mirrors, like metaphors,

are always a little bit true.

You were a wall without a gate

that grew every time I scaled it.

I had a glass splinter in the ball

of my foot on the first day of the trip.


I walked forever out of the carnival,

out of the cotton candy, ring toss, dunk tanks,

out of the women dressed up like giant babies.

I found a homestead like a real American,

staked a claim on land I thought unoccupied.

I made a lean-to out of wood,


and leaned it against myself.

I sent out change of address cards,

threw a party. You taught me well.

When my guests came, I was open,

smelled like cookies on the windowsill.

When they stayed, I barred all the doors.


Think back: a story of a bursting mother,

the mother who made herself into a house.

Think back: The daughter who was a unicorn,

the daughter who smashed her way out.

Now look: I have made a house of myself.

At least I am only one load-bearing wall.




S.K. Brownell’s work has won the National Partners of the American Theatre Playwriting Excellence Award, a Sewanee Writers Conference Tennessee Williams Scholarship, and the Solstice Literary Magazine Editor’s Choice Award, and has appeared in or is forthcoming from Great Lakes Review, Solstice Literary Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, Punt Volat, Decoded: Pride Anthology, and other publications. Stephanie holds an MFA from Boston University, teaches writing at GrubStreet, and creates with Artists Theater of Boston.