My youth was a loud, rambunctious play
With a boisterous cast of parents, teachers, pals
Who stood across the footlights of my stage
Or sometimes simply waited in the wings
of my growing up –
Skip Halfpenny, the scamp whom teachers loved
To scold, And Martha Johnson, whose parents
Didn’t seem to like her very much.
My mother said it was because they were afraid -
They’d had four children, only two remained.
Mr, Stewart led the orchestra and band,
and we were good!
He called on us to do more than we could
He taught us the mathematical reality that
The whole, in orchestra, and perhaps in life,
Is often greater than its parts.
We learned it playing Rimsky-Korsakov.
I see my parents’ friends who smoked and drank
Played poker: nickel ante, dealers’ choice –
I see our houses, stages where we’ve acted
I wouldn’t know them now, they’ve been redone
The lights upon stage on which my childhood
Have flared, then flickered, finally gone out,
All the actors too are gone,
One at a time, they left.