national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2014

Capgras Syndrome

Rebecca Rothfeld  • 
Dartmouth College

One day you were

no longer you. You’d

swallowed yourself in the deep

of your sleep and escaped through

a door in the side of

your gut. By the time I awoke,

already too late, I noticed

the maculate window agape,

long curtains contorted with

unbidden breeze, the covers

drawn back on the bed’s naked thigh.

There hadn’t been time

for notes or goodbyes, just

enough to collect what you thought

you might need, your books

and your socks, a couple

of shirts, old letters

addressed to a self days away.


Strangers in the kitchen are

scrambling eggs. Interred in

the tub I am turning taps cold,

my fingers all wrinkled like rot-ripened

fruit. I plead with your captors

for your safe return. What have they done

with your voice, with your hands? And where

are they keeping the greens of your eyes?

No prison could house all these

transient selves, no ransom recover

the bulk of your being, the fingers

that parted my mouth’s lonely oval

and defied our parting, demanding

I stay. On the day of

betrayal I’ll unbuild my bearings,

find my clothing ill-fitting and mirrors

unfamiliar, my mail delivered to

previous tenants, and myself

coyly kidnapped: we’ve all been replaced.