Stephen Boyce
Gracing the Stage

Twenty years later, coming to Oxford on the off-chance
     of catching Brief Lives at the Playhouse,
I found you’d dressed John Aubrey in a long coat
     of moss-green velour,
its folds as smooth as Yorkshire’s dales.

Heel-length behind and rising to the calf,
the coat was frog-fastened, fur-edged.
I thought of that brown pelt that lay across your bed
     in the days of our loving,
the soft nap of your thigh beneath my palm.

The curtain fell. I shrugged on my raincoat in the foyer,
     slipped out,
wanting to feel the cobbles beneath my feet.
This brief life, I thought, needs no awkward reconciliation.
Let settled lives play out on separate stages.