jessica server

The One To Watch

                 Nickelodeon Studios

The red light clicks on and we’re rolling.
At the Craft service table, I eat the bowl
of peanut M&Ms by the handful,
my bodysuit tucked tight into black jeans.
My chest all nipple and ribs but Alisa tells me
soon, soon. She is ready for her scene, made up
in pigtails and a belly-baring shirt. She leans over
the table for carrot sticks and I see her
round and dark Latin water balloons. I pretend
I like carrots, eat them with every meal.

Here, like everywhere, I am my brother’s sister,
so I visit Hair and Makeup where the girls
think it’s cute to blow volume into my dark,
thickening hair. They paint my eyelids purple,
slick my mouth red. I believe I am the one to watch
as my access badge clinks the ceramic mugs
left out for constant consumption. I pour myself coffee
and add six sugars, like Alisa. I pretend
I work long hours.

Aimless, I wander cement corridors
to find TLC in the green room. They sing me a song
I want to dance to, but—orthodontic and eleven—
I don’t know yet that the body wants to be seen.
I sit out their harmonies on the scratchy orange couch,
pretend I’m happiest when still.

When the audience finally arrives, I stand
near the food table’s shadow and silently pop
candies, imagine each one is a member of the crowd.
They pretend they don’t see me standing there,
so I roll up my shirt, expose my white, soft belly
to the heat of each stage light. They pretend
they don’t see me, so I swallow them whole,
my lips the color of a red M&M.

As of 2014: Jessica Server holds an MFA in poetry and a certificate in travel writing from Chatham University. She is currently the nonfiction instructor at Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) High School, and works as a teaching artist and writer around the city. Her first chapbook of poems, Sever the Braid, is currently available from Finishing Line Press.

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