Alexander Payne Morgan

The Costumer’s Husband: Tech Week

after Dorianne Laux

He loved her most
when she came home past midnight,
eye lashes trailing glitter,
fingers sticky with the residue of two-sided tape,
her smock, one of his discarded shirts, rainbowed
around the pocket, smelling of marker,
paints and glues, the fresh cut cloth
of final alterations. He would go to her where she slumped
on the red ladder-chair in the kitchen, her fists
cracked-turquoise nail polish clinging to car keys
and release those fingers and offer chamomile tea,
a slice of orange, a bit of lightly buttered challah toast.

Then he’d lead her to bed and
free her of all remaining encumbrances,
take in his arms the flailing panic
of missed props and missed cues, improvised
wigs and fast-shaped hats, half-hung drapes
in the shouted improvisation of lights on ladders,
the quick-change fittings, the re-fittings,
the hot mercy of the glue gun, the genius of Velcro,
the director’s tense uncomplimentary dismissal
and the long drive home.

Author’s Statement on Beauty

After beauty has passed, I realize that something more than “pretty” has come and gone. A miracle happened, and as a mere side effect, I was pleased or impressed or brought to pause. I am too limited a being to see directly the miracle, but when I think about it, then I realize the enormity of what must have come together to make my small moment of awe or pleasure.

I’ve never seen Blake’s tyger, but I have seen my wife, Janice, in action. I’ve seen her use every element of her energy and creativity in a near heartbreaking struggle to make beauty, to force it ready in time for a performance. Out of her working of craft and purpose, beauty will mysteriously emerge, and I love it more knowing how much time and focus has been expended to bring it into being for only a few moments. And then I think with shock of how a Darwinian biologist would see this pitiful activity of protoplasm doing its bit in a billion year struggle for survival. How much “machinery of nature” is behind a beautiful costume that will be used for a few weeks in a theater, appreciated by a few hundred spectators, and never seen again.

Of course, the gift of beauty can be taken innocently, in ignorance of the forge of its creation. Yet, sometimes when I see a sunset, I remember the nuclear fire behind the colors, and it adds wonder to my pleasure, awe that something has managed such forces to take my breath away.:

Alexander Payne Morgan’s poems have been published in The MacGuffin, Crack The Spine, and Dunes Review. He received a first prize in poetry in the Springfed Arts writing contest in 2015. He’s attended workshops with the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He’s a member of Detroit Working Writers, Michigan Writers, and Springfed Arts. He won the 2016 Detroit Working Writers MacGuffin poetry prize.

Featured Image: “San Francisco Trees” by Alexander Payne Morgan