0099 The Reading - Poem by Michael Shepherd
The EX IT sign in the Town Hall Theatre
was lit by gas. A smell you never quite forget.
It serves to pin the memories of those other times.
The sister of the junior mistress at the local school
was here to give her reading: 'Scenes from Shakespeare';
whole scenes and all the characters.
But she had a very special voice.
Oh who can know
the where and when
that life may give its life to life
and give it full, and give it whole?
And who may know
how many years
before the fruits
burst in the soul?
Or what the lights
and where the sounds
and what they speak,
and where the whole?
The performance ended.
As the lights came on,
the audience were still for - seconds? -
as if they had forgotten they were not already at home;
then walked out into
the rainy darkness of the seaside town,
past the gaslit EXIT sign;
the sea a distant seethe and roar
and some were changed for life.
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