POEM: On learning of the closure of the theaters by government decree

Plague may close the theaters, but fear not. The actors always come back.

March 17, 2020

Back in the day they just performed anywhere
The town square, a hallway, ‘my uncle has an inn.’
Corner off the crowd and pass the hat.
Shame them into some small donation – ‘we have to eat!’
Then the Plague came with its crest and longer ebb.
Devastation.

But the actors came back.

Next year was better. (Isn’t that always the way,
The new season, new plays, new voices pushing
Out the old voices?) Theaters sprung up, expanding
Like weeds. Good times at last. Until the fire, the
Great One, took out half the city. More devastation.

But the actors came back.

Then – a miracle! The golden age. Wondrous plays
Ripe with Revelation, Surprise and Complication.
Reputations won and held. Adulation of the crowds.
Endless encores. Until the rulers changed. They didn’t care
For story tellers, dancers, magicians. No whiskey.
And no betting on bears – yes, that was the custom.
We descended into darkness. But the rulers changed.

And the actors came back.

What has gone round has come around once more.
The new plague envelops with tidal force
Numbing the mind. Our theaters close again. Ghost lights —
Dim inscrutable sentinels — burn low on empty stages.
And yet… we can feel them. Just off-stage.
Summoning lines, marking pace, movement, inspiration.
They are on fire, ready to burn again.
“This is life,” they whisper. “This is the secret we carry.
This is the never-ending song we sing.
All we ask is that you hear us.”

They will come back.
The actors always come back.