The Curtain

Perhaps you know that story where people step
out of this world and into another through
a split in the air – they feel for it

as you would your way across a stage curtain,
after your one act, plucking at the pleats,
trying for the folded-in opening through which

you shiver and shoulder yourself
without so much as a glance up
to the gods, so keen are you to get back

to where you were before your entrance:
those dim familiar wings, you invisible,
bumping into things you half-remember

blinded as you’d been out there
in the onslaught of lights, yes, blinded
but wholly attended to in your blindness.

No tears then. Just one of us to hold
aside the curtain – here we are, there you go –
before letting it slump majestically back

to that oddly satisfying inch above the boards
in which we glimpse a shadowy shuffling dark.
And when the lights come on and we turn to each other

who’s to say they won’t already be
in their dressing room, peeling off the layers,
wiping away that face we have loved,

unbecoming themselves to step out
into the stream of the night crowds.


from Alive Alive O (Bloodaxe, 2015), © Greta Stoddart 2015, used by permission of the author and the publishers

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