The Music Plays on By JP Reese
March 19, 2012 Comments Off on The Music Plays on By JP Reese
There he goes again, swinging his legs around on the piano bench toward the audience, playing the effeminate fool, clasping his hands together against his heart, and they LOVE it! He slips in a little gossip about the chilly heaven that is Martha’s Vineyard in autumn. The empty gray beach, the wind singing in his ears, the songs he writes afternoons in front of the little fireplace warming our cozy cottage. He adds a bit of homespun about the crisp maple bacon I grill for him every morning as he lies in bed and hums show tunes a la Liza and Babs.
He might want to lay off the flappy wrists and that lisp. They don’t get the laughs they used to. Times have changed, and some of the more strait-laced tourists are beginning to avoid the show. After all, there are church ladies in his audience from Toledo who must be protected from the flotsam and jetsam of his slippery tango with the dark side. These ladies tonight still think he’s cute, and safe. A crooner he is not. A player? Yes, I’ll admit he is still fair at that — the cotton tops clap when the show’s over like sweaty penguins in a sudden snowfall. I miss his lovely body, slick against my hips.
Martha’s Vineyard was a lifetime ago. We survive. I hug him half-way round his expanding middle after the show. He pulls off his tux and hangs it behind the door, its knees baggy and shining in the mirror’s reflected light. He changes into jeans and a jacket while I count our portion of the take.
There are many things we should discuss: my mother’s will that left me nothing and gave the cottage to a distant cousin, the tumors blooming in his head like poisoned mushrooms, his anxious glances in the mirror, and the heedless way he pulls out strands of hair and drops them at the bedside as he reads late into the night. His lover’s unfaithfulness. But we glide through the darkness and substitute arguments about whether we should flag a taxi on 49th, or if our belongings are still safe in the locker at Port Authority, whether to stop for a bagel or a beer, or decide to ride the subway to Danny’s loft instead. Maybe he’ll agree to take us in again tonight. We head out the stage door, passing blind alleys as we walk away.
© 2011 JP Reese
JP Reese has work published or forthcoming in over forty print and online journals. Reese is Associate Poetry Editor for Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, www.connotationpress.com and Poetry Editor for THIS Literary Magazine, www.thiszine.org Her work can be found at Entropy: A Measure of Uncertainty, jp.reese.tumblr.com