Paris, 1867

There’s a deep hush now, on my exit.
All that’s left is the faint rasping
of trombone slides and music stands,
the rustling of a breathless orchestra under our feet

The house lights dim to twilight
and the velvet curtain skims the stage
while stage-hands dressed in shadows
silently dismantle the scene.

I am winded in the wings.

The buzzing inside my head is louder
than the applause breaking open
on the other side
and I wonder if my makeup is running,
from sweat
or tears
or my tenor’s spit
as we launched our lovers,
star-crossed as they were,
to their dramatic demise.

Though I’ve rehearsed her sorrow
for weeks and months and days
I still feel her pain acutely,
intimately,
and am freshly wounded
night
after night
again
and again.

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