(THE COUPLE kisses, taking their sweet time,
while in the audience some light applause
erupts then fades as thunder might—no rhyme
or reason, just some faithful few—because
rejoicing seemed the thing to do—but no:
they heard among their many some disgust
and longed to silence it, or at least elbow
those standing back into their seats…Don’t trust
the man offended by your love. He’s mad
that his is not the only way: he bargains
with his lover for a kiss; he wants it bad—
so bad he’d force her face into the margins…
Regardless, there they go, their souls on fire.
THE POET tries to count them, but grows tired.)
I guess the love-that-conquers-all’s a dream.
No. That’s as close to forfeit as I’ve ever seen!
(The crowd that hears him answers with proud cheers.
Those leaving take their leave with stiffened smiles,
and the rest clap, their gaze intent—some sneer
at those ascending up the angled aisles,
but most sit graciously in waiting, paused
as if for a kiss. THE COUPLE looks on, bored.
But then, through darkness and its ebbed applause,
some men and women enter from the doors
to the lobby and claim the empty seats.
They quietly look up onto the stage
as if arriving late, each breach discreet,
their hearts already eager to engage.
THE POET, baffled, squints and shades his eyes;
The bright lights make him tear. It’s no surprise
that he climbs down into the darkness, off the set.)
What is this place? Who are you, with your calm
and your programs? I don’t believe we’ve met—
and yet you thunder like a loyal storm
beyond the lights, existing separately
so we can’t see and thank you. Houselights? Please?!
(THE POET calls into the ether, eyes
adjusting to the dark, pulse slowing down.
And then, responding to his desperate cry,
The houselights rise. Nobody makes a sound.
Some in the audience seem quite amused,
but others shift uncomfortably, not used
to being seen, arms tight against their chests.)
Well thank you, strangers; I wish you all the best.
(And from the gesture, THE POET flees again,
this time into the lobby, to the street.
THE LOVER panics too: alone, he bends
to climb down from the stage. The birds repeat
their glorious song; they call for him to wait
with a red rush, pleading from high in the air.
THE POET bursts back in, his stance sedate.
No longer out of breath, he gently goes to him.)
You’ll never guess. The line’s around the block.
They’re begging for these guys to let them in.
I said the house was full, but they won’t stop.
I said I’d ask. They said it’s worth a shot.
(THE LOVER, baffled, looks past him and nods.
The floodgates open; people fill the aisles,
fitting where they can. And quietly.
Looking out over the sea of smiles,
THE LOVER laughs, unsure how proud to be.)
They’re here for us? They want to see the show?
Well not for us—it could be anyone:
the hunger drives us each to learn, then know
what love is like (when it is love)—and none
deny it, though they may not be as free
to witness it, or free to share it here—
or to know even how to share it. We
are gifted in our love, yes—but we’re queer
in that we’re welcomed into lovely view.
And with its blessing, loved—as I love you.
I didn’t catch a word of that. But thanks.
I’m just saying. They’re here but not for us.
We each arrive for any chance at love,
even someone else’s. It’s enough.