The Balcony Scene


Enter, soft as an erudite shoemaker into the mezzanine,
where I lean against the balcony,
my eyes scan the gates at the back of the gardens
for the metallurgic chest plates the guards wear.
They glisten in the moonlight like shears,
and shock the hair off the possums whose midnight prowls
bristle the leaves in the rose bushes.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the curtains draw back, the house lights fall to complete darkness, and the side stage lights swallow me whole.  I rehearsed the opening monologue; I know the steps to the left, followed by a quick run-walk to the right, at which point my arms shoot up above my head as I look up and reach into the “sky.”  I could do this scene in my half-sleep.  I could do it after a day with nothing to eat.  So, why do my fingers start to tremble?  Why does my heart want me to hear it galloping as though it were in a chariot race?  It clomps and thunders beneath my ribs, beating and bruising itself into the ground.

Right as I am about to open my mouth and let the chorus of “remember that day” and “sparkle and fade” and “I just want to have some candy,” a willowy figure cloaked in blackness darker than the opera boxes slides into the seat next to yours. Your head turns as though you sense a shift in the air around you, but when you look, you see only darkness.  Your hand reaches out to touch the space immediately in front of you and you feel nothing.  But, I see her; she pulls the hood away from her face and it is my own.  And I feel her; she pulls her long hair out from under her cloak and I feel a tugging at my own.

She wears an appetite of the ages on her face, which is my face.  I thought my body ached when I neglected the dancing, the stretching, the simple walking.  Oh, but one glance at her and a millenia of aching pours through me like molten gold.  She sees me watching her, seeing myself in her; you see me looking at something around you that you can’t discern.  You stand up and do a lap around rows K,L, and M.  You wave your arms around, hoping to brush up against what you know is there, what you’ve coaxed to be there.

I stand still here on this stage.  Memorized words tossed aside, memorized movements discarded.  The speech that I had prepared suddenly superfluous and self-serving.  I look at the face, so clearly my own, and down to the body underneath those dark clothes, and I see my abyss staring back at me.  Lovingly, she motions for me to call out for my heritage, to welcome my birthright at long last.

I take the steps to the edge of the stage, you’ve now moved into the orchestra pit.  I open my mouth.  “I have come back, I have found home; I have destroyed all of the locks, I have stewed all the bones.  Won’t you come through my window and claim your soul?”

My words charge the particles in the air, dusting the floor around my feet with red powder, fine like pulverized berries.  You climb out of the orchestra pit and give me a standing ovation.  You reach up to the edge of the stage for my hand.  When you touch my skin and notice the costume change, you now see what you previously couldn’t.  What was at your side is now before you, together at last.  When you search for the lines in my face, you see hunger, seduction, and dreams that will not be tamed.

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