Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November Poetry Challenge: 17/30: Opening Night

This is poem #17 out of 30 in my November poetry challenge. For those of you coming in part way through the month, I'm trying to write 30 poems in 30 days, in what has become an annual challenge for myself. I'm posting them here as a way of holding myself accountable, so I'll actually get them done. Thanks for dropping by! It tickles me that people are actually reading these. I hope you're having as much fun reading as I'm having writing.

Opening Night

Opening night for my daughter's
first college play
is in just a few days.
I listen to her talk of tech week,
and look at her backstage pictures...

and I'm back in high school theater.
I tried out for every play,
even though it scared me to death.
Actually? I'd try out
it scared me to death.
I'd push myself, just to say I did it,
and then retire back stage
to help concoct the magic.
Now that was fun.
I'd pound flats together,
and prime and paint.
I'd cobble together props,
build platforms,
and stay out of the way of the costumer.
(She had pins!)
And we goofed around a lot of course.
But I loved being part of a mass creation,
feeling the intensity pick up speed
in those frantic final weeks
as we scrambled to get everything done.
We'll never make it!
And then suddenly...

it was time.
Props were in place.
Lights were aimed and ready.
The set sat patiently behind golden curtains
waiting for the grand reveal.
And the actors were downstairs
getting in make-up, going over
lines one last time, and finding
that missing piece of their costume.
This...this was my favorite time of all.
I'd sneak upstairs away from the frenzy

and sit, stage right,
back against the brick wall
and look out over the empty house with its rows
and rows of waiting chairs.
I'd close my eyes...and breathe...and listen.
I swear I could feel the theater,
alive and eager,
gathering itself to fling open the doors,
usher in the audience,
and let the wonder flow.
This coming performance, whatever it was,
is what it lived for.
And yes, that play house did live!
I'd hug that still moment
of vibrant anticipation to myself...
and smile...
and then the theater would chase me
back downstairs to the bustle,
so we could get everything done
before curtain time.

I hope
on my daughter's opening night,
in that hush before the house doors open,
she gets a chance to go breathe
in the empty wings
and look out over the waiting seats.
And I hope her theater
speaks to her too,
saying, "Welcome.
I'm glad you're part of this.
Now get back to work--
it's time for us to make some magic!"

Melissa McCollum

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