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 cucumber. 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.
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?