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Rebecca Valley

DIRECTIONS (FOR WHEN IT IS DARK)

You enter the scene. You look both ways before crossing the street, which I just

finished painting. There are no cars. You enter a house beside a lake. This is a

play, so the house has no back, just a front door and a front window and some

white siding with green shutters. The lake, for that matter, is a sheet, the same

sheet I used earlier when we played the parachute game where you wave a cloth

until it fills with air and tuck it underneath you so it puffs up and you can live

together in a real house I mean a cave of pure blue fast deflating dusk. You loved

me then but it is easy to love a person in blue light, a pocket of temporary air.

In the meantime my body becomes farm girl sturdy; I have just learned how to

eat again and you have just learned how to pretend to walk up a flight of

imaginary stairs, enter a house that doesn’t exist, slam a cardboard door. I am

building the world in which you are learning to live but I don’t want to brag. I

mean only that we're experts in playing pretend. That you are an actor and I love

actors, think you are so handsome in your mask of somewhere else.

On stage it is a sticky nowhere. Summer. No one else in sight. Off-stage what is

there? The play ends when I dim the lights and the (real) frogs start croaking. I

say this half a house reminds me of my childhood. You take a long deep breath,

the kind that comes at the end of the season in the evening standing on the lawn

with your fingers in your pockets hanging on for dear life. We are standing on

the stage together. I am breathing too, eyes closed, the spotlights a little like a

streetlamp, two white moth eye-beams, or the headlights of a mythic passing car.

I’m sorry for bringing you here I say. This is the only play I know.


 

Rebecca Valley is a poet and essayist from Saint Albans, Vermont. Her poems and essays have been featured in Black Warrior Review, Rattle, The Boiler, ELKE: a little journal, and elsewhere. She is an MFA Candidate in poetry at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she teaches writing. She also serves as the editor in chief of Drizzle Review, a book review site with a focus on minority authors and books in translation. You can find more of her work at www.rebeccavalley.com.

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