To My Understudy
Tonight, I want to hush the deafening applause
XXXXXfor you, my understudy, who always believed
XXXXXin thepossibility of impending disasters;
XXXXXthe wobbly trapdoor,
XXXXXthe frayed light cords,
You spent months waiting, ready to fly from dim wings
XXXXXinto dumbfounding radiance to replace me,
XXXXXthe fallen star. Perhaps you served the play’s
XXXXXartifice well, rendered my lines with grace.
XXXXXThough you didn’t cause the misfortune
XXXXXthat thrust you into the animating light, you
XXXXXare still a thief of roles, an embezzler of words.
Do not mistake forgiveness for permission.
XXXXXI own the sorrows of this stage,
XXXXXthe colors of the painted scrim sky.
XXXXXMy body scents the cloth of costumes.
XXXXXThe ghosts cry in my voice all night.
XXXXXThe rubber knife measures the length of my fingers
XXXXXand will plunge only into my believing heart.
Beware. Tomorrow, the peacock returns.
XXXXXWith my feathered eyes I’ll watch the sparrow retreat
XXXXXto dark obscurity, a caged bird who has seen the sun,
XXXXXbut must wait for an ill wind to soar again. When
XXXXXthe curtain rises, it will be me stepping out of myself
XXXXXinto the burn of another’s life, the heat of clapping hands.
Never again will you steal my illusions.
XXXXXOne single moment in my pretend world
XXXXXis the whole life I knew I was meant to live.