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Ghost Light by Miranda Lynn Barnes

Ghost Light

for my mother

Nothing is ever dark

completely. Inside the lobby,

the glow of a popcorn machine

could be confused with moonlight

coming through the gilded doors,

glinting off the staircase balustrades.

Is it awake? This old building

that has seen so many lives

in mimicry, a parade of jesters

glittering in their inebriant festoon,

so many loves and deaths rehearsed

to the glory of their enacted apogee.

And through the bloom of swinging doors:

the velvet seats worn through

in greyed-out shapes of seated patrons,

hovering in the hush and swell of dramas past.

The gasps and laughter are still here,

with your impish spirit in a wig and cape.

It’s been more than thirty years since,

yet some of sliver of your spirit glows

atop the stage, appears suspended

in radiance, beams in unapologetic light

around your happiness, at being free,

at being large, at being limitless.

Miranda Lynn Barnes

Miranda Lynn Barnes is a poet, writer, and educator from the US, now resident in the UK. Her poems have appeared in New Welsh Reader, Shearsman, Poetry Birmingham, Tears in the Fence, Under the Radar, The Compass, The Interpreter’s House, and Lighthouse Journal, among other journals and anthologies. Miranda taught creative writing for five years at Bath Spa University, where she earned her doctorate. She now serves as Research Publications at the university, and lives in Bristol. Her first pamphlet collection, Blue Dot Aubade, is forthcoming from V. Press in 2020.

Twitter: @LuminousJune

About This Poem

My mother was an actress in the theatre when I was a child, and I often spent time there while my mother was in rehearsals. She sadly had to stop acting for health reasons many years ago, and the theatre was subsequently closed for a long time due to dilapidation. The poem is my imagined return to that place that held so much magic for her, and where I know part of her heart still lives.


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