Last Act by David Chorlton

Dancer in the Dark


It’s just a made up story, something

like an opera, this tragic

sequence of events beginning

with the immigrant mother

saving every greenback dollar she can

to pay for her son’s operation

while the world she’s in

is fading. But even blind she sees

in her imagination

how she can dance and everyone

around her breaks

into song for as long

as the illusion lasts. Then she’s robbed,

and high drama ensues

at the end of which her landlord,

who couldn’t stop his wife from spending

more money than he made,

is a dead policeman on the ground.

Who’d believe the woman

that he came at her with his gun

and all she wanted

was her money back? So, she

who found her way home by following

the railway tracks is lost beyond hope,

though not beyond music.

We’re watching injustice

turn into an art form, with the closing

scene bearing down upon us

like a train, as the execution chamber

becomes a theater

in which the hangman’s only doing his job

and he’s not paid to pass judgment,

just to pull the lever

that springs the trap door open

and leaves the body swinging

back and forth before

the curtains close

as they do at every final scene.

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