Poets are Present is a poetry residency in conjunction with David Ives’s adaptation of The Metromaniacs. As part of this unique theatre/poetry exchange, the Shakespeare Theatre Company is proud to host more than 30 D.C.-area poets in the theatre’s lobby. Throughout the run, we will share with you the poems that this residency inspired our guests to write. Visit our Poets are Present page to see a list of upcoming poets.
Katherine Smith‘s work has been published in a number of journals, among them Missouri Review, Cincinnati Review, Ploughshares, Gargoyle, The Journal of the Motherhood Initiative, Poetry, Shenandoah, and The Southern Review. Her first book, Argument by Design (Washington Writers’ Publishing House), appeared in 2003. Her second book Woman Alone on the Mountain appeared with Iris Press in Fall 2014. She works at Montgomery College.
By Katherine Smith
We ghosts like mortals know all there is to know
about ourselves: the poet late for the matinee
remembers lines she copied from Nerval: “there’s no
asylum but the ivory tower of poets.”
Her fellow passengers, fellow dreamers, rise,
emerge from pungent metro cars. She rushes
to the theater, misses my—her companion’s— eyes.
We’re seated as the lights go down. I approve
the curtain’s timely rise. I’ve always known
this comedy of errors would go on
in shimmering orchards of unreal fruit, among stones
arranged across a stage’s bright parquet.
The moon is blue. Outside the muck and ice
churn, and the north wind blows down 7th street.
Onstage Dorante stumbles through his lines, precise,
timed to simulate the bumbling human heart.
We all applaud the perfect, silly poetry.
I travel with the living in peacock rhymes
on tongues that resurrect the syllables
of silk embroidered by a poet—me!
This show’s sublime I shout from my seat
beside the poet dressed in ridiculous clothes
who doesn’t smirk at my powdered wig. She meets
my eyes, her ancient, newest friend, and agrees.