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Curtain Call

By
Break a leg.
I’ve watched the rehearsals; you’re almost as good as I

In my prime.
Pull your glossy, youthful hair back,

Twist it, turn it years beyond its age.
Cake your face with Mommy’s powder, lest you drown in the beauty of others.
Back straight, chin high, deep breaths, nothing to fear:
You’ll be applauded

No matter your mistakes

Whether pitiful or genuine, you will receive applause.

No need to be nervous.
Gray, piercing eyes.

Trust me, they’re out there,

floating in a sea of anxious bodies,

even though you’re blinded by your splendid spotlight.
Pirouette your way through the weeks,
Ignore the murmurs in the audience, the yawning, the giggles:
They said they’d support you, and here they are.
Good thing you’re flying solo this time:

I’ve flirted onstage with graceful, weightless young men.

One’s hands slipped, and now I sit,

Cross-legged, bursting with envy, watching you wallow in pride from afar.
Almost there now, don’t screw up again.
(Please, please fall. Trip, stumble, freeze, anything. Let me hold your hand and say I told you so)
Yes, yes, it’s over now…take your bow, try to forget the bubble of disappointment, regret, shame,

Even though you know that you will cry yourself to sleep tonight.
Keep up that smile, the one that everyone says you got from your mother.
Think of the thorny roses, the kisses that will ruin your makeup, the hurtful words of praise.

Something to look forward to.
Hold back the tears, at least until the curtain closes, envelopes you in utter darkness.
Peace, silence at last.





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