Ghost Light

Ghost Light

Every theater has a ghost
often appeased with light, protection
from dangers seen and not
forgotten.

Never forget, we say,
as we do

again,
ghosts flicker-flit or shadow-boom in every theater,
watch the room and mark the spot–

recall how light once sparkled above–
an encircling diamond bracelet
now obscured by a smoky sleeve
and bursts of bright arterial blood.

Every theater has a ghost,
but this one has a multitude.

The final curtain fell
with the beating of Death’s black wings
there is no exit

and no light,
in the darkness, the children cry,
ghosts in this theater of the absurd.

For dVerse Open Link Night. I’ve included my reading of the poem, too.
The ghost light is a theater tradition. Some say it’s to appease the ghosts that all theaters are said to have. Others say it’s for safety reasons—to keep people from falling into the orchestra pit in the dark or tripping over cables. While theaters were closed for Covid, many kept a ghost light on as a promise that they would reopen.

I saw in the news that Russian forces had bombed a theater in Mariupol that was sheltering many children and elderly civilians. According to satellite photos, the building was clearly marked with the word “children” written in Russian. It sounds like the basement kept them safe, but elsewhere, children’s bodies have been found in mass graves.
I am appalled (though unfortunately not surprised) that some people in the US, such as the former president and his true believers, still support Putin and parrot Russian disinformation.