Cue

by Benedict Mulcare

“Here; behind the plywood boards,
I can’t quite reach the lighting switch myself.
Give us a hand, buddy; just hold this shelf.”
You’re detached. From upon the second floor
a skylight gazes on a flock of birds,
oblivious to the actors’ distant words.
I wear a night-gown. Disembodied sounds
vats of electric noise are spilled from hidden speakers,
as technicians roughly go about the rounds
embossed in black, with pedestals for sneakers
borrowed from a friend in disruptive teens. How funny
that the years have caught them up, and all their sunny
afternoons crescendo through to evenings and hungover breakfasts
add to this sum total. Edging sideways between brittle boards
ensuring others’ brittle nights run smoother
than their stiff and unforgotten summer flings,
under violet skies, crossed bridges, championing like kings
and laughing, loop-the-loop-ing cosmic rings,
how absent fell from quaking palms this age
and wound them up playing these games backstage.
Still. One foot in the door, they bend on,
my Prometheus, how far have we come?
As a stone thrown into the wind across your star-spattered lake,
I’ve lost my map. So have you yours,
awash upon Zeus’s crystalline shore’s wake,
sat up in noisome dressing rooms by dark stage doors,
while practiced actors warm up, while our plays pause –