Tensed Muscle

Dusk, beyond the beltway. If not for the narrow back roads —
Colt’s Neck, Appaloosa, Thoroughbred – their blacktop hides
steaming — we’d have missed the call to paddock, a Q & A
with glossy-maned authenticity. Taking the stage, however,
mien academic, hair a lackluster bun, it’s as if her minder’s
just whispered This ain’t, you know, Manhattan in her ear.

An actor in the audience asks how she so fully inhabits each role.
The stiffness falls away. Be honest, she says, be strong, even
be wrong, and lengthening stride describes how in the São Paulo
production of Hair and still a teen her sudden nakedness so
sharply cleft her grandfather’s iceberg heart he leapt to his feet
to applaud, loudly and alone. She leaves our theater to cheers.

The film unreels. Housed now in Clara, she ushers us inside,
past, present, and future imperfect, all one muscular tense.

Formerly an assistant professor of English at Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, for the past 30+ years Joe O’Neill has been an IT executive, Mr. O’Neill (BA English Holy Cross College, MA English SUNY Stony Brook) resides in Reston, Virginia and Long Bay, Tortola (BVI). His poetry has appeared in The Caribbean Writer and the Journal of Caribbean Literatures.