Guest Poet Sandy  Steinman

I know 

a woman who plays
too many roles
to be tranquil,
some parts paper-doll thin
a drosophila wing,
a saved, torn Walmart total. 

She holds all in frantic
fingers, saves everything,
fears a needed piece will drop away
and she will die onstage, tilted. 

Raise the blue-checkered curtain 
on a square rustic kitchen
where she plays Snow White,
peels a fat, garden-fresh

Now, Hedda Gabler
presses it to soothe
a puffy eyelid
before blending with yogurt.

She can't discard the mail; 
Macy's sales to Missing Children,
saves her son's size-two snowsuit, 
from a  1956 blizzard,
each year's calendar, 
out-of-focus snapshots, angry letters,
single socks. 

Dreads thinning tomato plants,
plucking tender life. 

Past lives cling 
like a pink trousseau nightie,
lazy green afternoons lost
reading,  recipes
from bygone friends
Blintzes, Noodle Kugel, Carrot Tsimmes,
A lemon Jello cheesecake. 

Center stage 
She bellows "Gypsy" 
to reviewers' raves,
now "Medea" and knows every line,
but the crowded stage, 
sweaty actors, 
baffled director roars, 
"This plot will burst 
without Krazy Glue". 

She wants to hoard it all
puffed-sleeve blouses, rayon miniskirt,
three garter belts, a frayed yellow camisol.
Sorting laundry, she struggles
to discard a torn tee.

She keeps all faces straight,
fears perhaps the one missed 
is the most essential 
to hold.

She's toppling. Requests 
a replacement, fears 
an understudy's performance 
will hold over-
ponders, maybe this script 
is too much for one player.

Yet she won't tear any away,
doubts an afterlife,
sings out "I am free." 
Sings out "Am I free?" and will
shed nothing. 
Not a thing.

April, 1999

Sandy  Steinman's Questions:

I've wondered whether the theatrical references should be bunched together or sprinkled here and there.

Have I been too heavy handed on lists?

Is "Drosophila wing" too obscure?

The Albany Poetry Workshop