I wore a sharp black beard

as a temple guard

in the grade school passion play,

a brown broom mustache

as Mr. Thorkelson

in I Remember Mama

on the high school stage,

and a sloppy suit when poorly cast

as Simon Stimson in Our Town

for my collegiate thespian debut

Waiting for our turns in the limelight

we joked and petted behind curtains

that smelled of old perfume and oil paint,

blew our cues and lines and tried hard

not to laugh when we did

The late night walk home

through the neighborhood

was lined with critics,

the flash of passing car lights,

the applause of crickets and tree frogs

I go back into character whenever

I watch the piano player

straighten the bench and pull at his fingers