We are, in a public setting, comforted
by the lack of expectations
until something awful happens,
an accident, someone choking
on a peach pit, for example.
Or worse, something intentional
but entirely unexpected, inappropriate,
the indiscriminate shooting of passengers
on a train, for example. We get sleepy
in public. We fall asleep in the audience,
lulled by the comfort of coughs,
laughter, the crowd breathing in and out.
It all feels so civilized until
our favorite character, played
by our favorite actress, falls
face-first into the orchestra pit.
The show continues with no understudy.
Death grants us a private audience.
Michael Judge has published poems in The Southern Review, Sycamore Review, and Poet Lore, among other publications. A poet and freelance journalist, he lives in Iowa City, Iowa, with his wife, Masae, and their son, Maximilian.Photo by Viktor Forgacs