the stage was dead and ready to hold the
reimagined corpse of your childhood house.
all that remained was to set the sagging banisters,
the boxes piled five high, a hundred plastic baggies filled
with yellowed junk mail, the gold clock whirling in its casing,
a merry golden curse.

are we ever to exist until another sees us?
your spotlight blinds and holds you
like late Cretaceous amber and you would
stand here forever if only because the light means
there is someone on the other end
watching you.

but the show whirs on, darling—
eat the yellow paint in a haze of suicidal
carpe diem, turn and set the detritus aflame.
don’t forget to laugh while it burns and then
pray, dear, they speak of you for a moment
after curtainfall.

Emily Gustafson is a graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and has a dual degree in English and Media & Cultural Studies with a minor in Hispanic Studies. She is also an actor, playwright, and nonprofit arts professional living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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