Monthly Archives: October 2014

props master

For R. E.

She makes things so they can be unreal

but believed in (unconsciously, according
to the actor’s art), sketching a world
in wood and welded steel
that fills a season, and falls
at the final curtain. Dismembered,
it is sent to the attic to jostle
with typewriters and drums,
lampshades, ships, waiting
like words in a dictionary
to be called to their proper part.

But strangest of all is the making. This hard wood
pounded close to the screeching saw
is an idea noisily shuddering
in the violence and grace of birth, ponderous
on the painted floor. Hand and eye well-schooled
in the heft of square and level, nail-gun and sander,
sink back with the ache of a thing made,
a new creation.

She makes things so they can be real

and believed in. That they may stand,
for an hour, eternal: not mine, not yours,
but everyone’s, restored
to their mystery–the grammar of shape–
the concordance of noun
and verb. We are given, again,
the surprise and the thrill
of a door that opens, of a bell
that rings.

Behind the curtain are two hands skilled
to show unspeaking what substances can be,
mastering the properties of things. She chisels
them out of their commonness, hoping
that for us again
our tables and furnished rooms,
(doors, chairs, inconstant candles)
may be what they are: sufficient

for a Word, a significant act, and all
our holy unscripted play.

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