FROM THE PROMPTER’S BOX
Those first-nights when I see my charge’s panic,
And, in quick whispers, slip him mislaid lines,
Untangled recognition scenes will light
A face, inflected sense revive a flagging
Voice; and my inner rating service smiles.
No. No, the program never credits Prompter.
The same as nursing, ours is a self-reliant
Calling regarded as its own reward…
Although, in fairness, the brightest stars remember
To breathe a private “thank you” at the curtain.
Just like a turntable set, sight lines shifted
The day I gazed at that smooth slab of his—
The Unknown Soldier, who then began to prompt:
Mobilized for an afterlife of marble,
I’m bunked here in a tomb not granted those
Whose shining names appear on that bronze roster.
Distinctions should be met with gratitude;
Which holds, at least until the censers exit.
I paid what we all owe. And would again,
Allowed to exchange this blank for clear inscriptions
Recording what I did beside my name.
A greater loss than death? Identity!
Homage rings hollow on an anonymous crypt.
From nil and dark the self I knew calls out
For the small tag love once attached me to.