If you leave your seat for any reason during the performance, you will not be permitted to return

Before I sit down, I know I’ll need a break.
Before I got here, I knew.
Have always known.

I couldn’t sit that still, or silent, for that long,
after my perusal of the program,
after scanning for anyone I might know
seated near me, especially in the double- lettered rows,
AA, BB, CC, those very close to the proscenium
where I rarely sit.

I’m comfortable in the middle,
although I wasn’t a middle child, not really centered
some may say, but still, okay to be in the middle, less
climbing over others, once I’m seated.

I imagine, once,
I was seated at the table I’d come to know as family,
I’d learn to ask to be excused, and always was permitted
to return, until later, when I wanted to stay away,
employing theater rules that said I would not
be allowed back in.

I remember not wanting to share ‘for any reason’
with my mother, but knew, one summer,
I’d have to leave the stage to enter another theater,
this one my own making, my own producing, my own acting,
this one with ample intermissions for me to stretch,
to look around, to see the world beyond the stage
I’d been born to.


Barbara Simmons, a Californian from Boston, Wellesley College and The Writing Seminars (Johns Hopkins) alumna, a retired educator. She savors savor life with words as ways to remember, envision, celebrate, mourn, and understand. Publications include Boston Accent, Topical Poetry, DoubleSpeak, Soul-Lit, Capsule Stories, Journal of Expressive Writing.