My darling Jane
I'm back at last where we began, alone in the stalls,
scribbling this between the dress-rehearsal Acts.
The air seems full of lines unspoken, cues
not taken; this the very seat: the damasked hump
of horsehair, an inlaid fingernail of ivory;
Row D, 17, the spot where, against the grain,
my clumsy knee rubbed loose your plait. You turned
me; not gradually, but, in the fashion of theatre,
all life and love compressed to an instant.
Perhaps this will not reach you
before we are here again. But if it does, please replay
that carousel of knickers in the wind: my Disney pink
overstretched to over-peg your M&S thigh highs. Our giggles.
Your mother's lips a perished elastic smile.
Remember father meeting you, greeting us with sherries,
his eyes bible red, the decanter stopper rattling
in the neck. Recall the streets of stares, our knuckles
knotted till we broke; hotel foyers: walls mosaiced
with cameras, our voices tremolos, too high register.
At times like these I forgot my lines; then gathered
all those moments, and spoiled the opening night.
You see this headed paper? I took the job!
And now I know the past need not be past.
The curtain's falling. I have to go. Jane, I've changed
everything: your room is peach, the Garfield
magnet's gone, the sink plug doesn't seep; I rarely
cry. Tomorrow you'll settle in Row C.
This time I'll gently touch your braid. You'll turn.
Your forever loving
Ms C S Williams
H G Wells Institute of Temporality