October 11, 2014

Joyce Stein

ACT THREE

No one can remember
all of act one—it recedes
from memory, the scenes
run together—change
order, pawns of the pea-
under-the-shell shifts.

It was hopeful, act one,
that much I know,
ambitious, striving
for success and procreation.

Act two was growth,
the savoring of fruits newly tasted,
storing up for the future,
without loneliness,
watching our children prosper, or not.

Act two is over.
It’s time to rest on our laurels, regroup.
Holding hands during intermission,
we are awarded a respite
from the intricacies
of the plot.

Act three will be spare,
filled with apprehension.
The cast depleted,
we experience a different
kind of waiting.
Death is the new director.

from Rattle #20, Winter 2003