Acting Debut at the Roundhouse in London
by Nancy Scott
A children’s operetta—Cromwell’s having
a go at King Charles I and the Cavaliers.
Open call; any child who shows up
gets to be in the production, which is lucky
for ten-year-old Michael because he has a tin ear.
That Saturday afternoon, two tiers of scaffolding
had been erected on the bare stage; my son,
flag bearer for the Crown, at the top.
I admire Michael’s enthusiasm
for his adopted history; through all the speech-
making, intrigue, betrayal, my American
child waves the King’s standard
as a rallying cry for a dying cause.
In the final scene, Michael freezes.
The spotlight catches him, a wide-eyed kid
in tattered red tunic, peering down,
mesmerized. It’s 1648 and the flag has slipped
from his grasp. It flutters onto the stage
and gets trampled in a melee of bugles and swords.
Why didn’t you come down for the curtain call?
I asked Michael on the ride home.
After I dropped the flag, he said, I was afraid
what the King’s soldiers would do to me.
Nancy Scott (website) is the current managing editor of U.S. 1 Worksheets, the journal of the U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative in New Jersey. She is the author of two books of poetry, Down to the Quick (2007) and One Stands Guard, One Sleeps (2009) published by Plain View Press, and a chapbook, A Siege of Raptors (2010) published by Finishing Line Press.