The Theatre
Nathaniel A. Schmidt (bio)

The flutter of blinds signals like a curtain call
that my morning’s performance has begun:
the toddler son of Chinese graduate students
dashing toward an apartment’s slider-window
to watch me power-wash their weather-worn rear porch.

Since I first fired the hypnotic whur of my tool’s engine
he’s been waiting for me, allured with wonderment
as he stands in his favorite T-Rex T-shirt
and no pants, exposing his human condition
like the souls of those who listen to thespians,

and though his diapered sister soon crawls off
he keeps his eyes transfixed on my movements,
studying how my sprayer scrubs away
the filth caked on that once well-crafted woodgrain
to reveal its beauty concealed by grime

while I pretend to act unaware of his gaze.
The artifice of the windowpane or the stage,
like this poem, permits the mind to reflect
on what visions quicken and deaden the pulse,
so as my nozzle shapes circles and crosses in the dirt

to elicit smiles from my audience,
this child begins to imagine new worlds are possible–
why, when I click off my machine, he cries NO…No…no…

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