Post Road Magazine #8

Beckett's Endgame by Joel Brouwer

The steps, the biscuit, the glass, the powder,
the dog, the gaff, the clock. If we lost
our way we skipped to “take me for a turn,”
but we preferred everything in order, in
its last place under its last dust, and so
penciled our margins with vigor. Earth, weeping,
ocean, wedding. The June of ukases, when
Henrik averred that the fireflies had so
over-bred they were no longer lovely.
Yes, “Henrik averred.” There's English for you.
Rehearsals slipped from light Spanish red to
jumbo bourbons to cosmetologists
from the storefront next door pounding the walls
with scissors and conditioners.
And then slipped deeper into the evenings,
like seeds seeking water. We scratched around
our seeds to see if they'd sprouted. They would
never sprout. Mindy wired the lights, Zack
made plans for Madagascar with Francine
on his lap, and I memorized my lines—
my mene mene lines—down by the lake,
jaundiced among lustrous, unlovely swarms.
Which is a fancy way to say our seeds
would never sprout. Which is a folksy way
to say we were trying to sell ourselves
into slavery as quickly as we could,
but no one was buying. Which is true.
When we stepped out of character to comfort
the weepers—It's a comedy!—they leapt
from their chairs to terrify us: It isn't!
What skilled attention we got, we dying
of our wounds, we the glowing smear in summer's palm •

Joel Brouwer is the author of two books of poems, Exactly What Happened and Centuries. He teaches at the University of Alabama.

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