by Steve Gaines

by the time she began to live in my brain
the words she would say were drilled into me
and the hold she had on me was well defined
by the hours we had spent wrestling on the floor
rehearsing the fire we would we burn in

Lady Macbeth could bite like a cat
she purred me around her finger
and she carried my soul in a package
she opened only rarely

three weeks in the heat of an early Summer
we practiced the madness of our union
blood and candles burning in the night
Regicide whispered in my ear and lust too
as we turned in the furnace of our struggle
hour after hour of the words and destruction of
that primitive relationship…
the Scottish monster and his consort…
as we worked out its twists and thrusts…

it was a role I survived only…
never mastered…
not in my booming soliloquies
or long soft moments of introspection

the ambitious Lady Macbeth
nearly carried me away that Summer
and to keep my own expectations in check
I lived outside the rules of the theatre
I left the character at the end of rehearsal
and spent the Summer touring as myself…
saying the words…
not playing the part

in the theatre it is called simply “the Scottish play”
the name is never spoken aloud
but you must leave the room
turn around three times…
“…saints and angels preserve us…”
knock!!! and request re-admittance…
a silly superstition born out of reverence
to the ancient ghosts
living in the foggy history of the play…
somewhere dead actors
who did not survive the part I suppose.

and so I played the game
dragging this luggage through August in Nebraska
haunting the stages in my own persona

no one in Cozad or Kearney knew the difference
even in Omaha they believed…
with reviews in glowing terms

a tour de force…
but a pretense at best
keeping the bard in the dark
and felling Duncan every night
armed only with my make believe prowess
and a voice to explode the sky.

and so…

the Thane of Cawdor lived a shallow life
from July through September