Light and Shadow

August 8, 2008
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I sit trembling
In the shadow of the curtain

Around me, other shadows,
The orchestra players, the crew of this ship,
Sit in silence,
Clutching sweat-moistened instruments
For the moment
When the curtain will go up
And we will play and give up, give back, bare our souls
To an unfeeling audience.
I tremble.

The critics, dark-eyed and dark-clothed, sit
With pencil and paper
The tools of doom.
I would rather face a gun at twenty paces
Than a loaded quill.
They sit, attentive, half reposing,
To hear us take up wood and steel
And create music,
Letting our hearts escape through the shadowy strings
And bended bows
So they can hear
And study
And disapprove.
I tremble.

The conductor’s footsteps, like the echoing metronome,
Announce the arrival of our leader.
We are crew, he is the captain;
We the racing team, and he the driver
Directing our power and our love
To make music.
He knows us and we know him, as ship and rudder,
And as long as we play for him,
For the leader,
For the music,
For the beauty and fury of the mounting, angry music,
We can never fail.
But playing for the paper,
For the critic,
For the pencil…
I tremble.

The curtain rises.
We blink and squint, the hot stage lights
Beating down upon our nervous hands,
Blotting out
Everything, everyone, except
The conductor, standing reverently at the podium,
Now cloaked in lightning silhouette
And the shadows of the orchestra around me.
With a silvery motion, like moon on the waves,
He flourishes his bright baton
Calling us to attention.

And as I lift my violin
And set the bow aright,
I understand.
Beneath the sun-shot lights,
The audience has ceased to exist.
We are alone.

There is no one but the conductor and me.

And I play.

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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

English Nana said...
Aug. 25, 2008 at 1:52 pm
Caitlin, I have read many student-written poems, and this is one of the best. I also know the feeling you expressed as I played the violin. Keep creating!
Gramdma's friend, Rose said...
Aug. 23, 2008 at 1:47 pm
Catlin, this is so sensitive, creative and beautiful. I could just feel what your were feeling.
Auntie Lisa said...
Aug. 22, 2008 at 6:50 pm
This is beautiful! Well written, Caitlin. I am so proud of you!
amy8 said...
Aug. 18, 2008 at 8:15 pm
Very moving!
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