After the movie, when the lights come up,
He takes her powdered hand behind the wings;
She, all in yellow, like a buttercup,
Lifts her white face, yearns up to him, and clings;
And with a silent, gliding step they move
Over the footlights, in familiar glare,
Panther-like in the Tango whirl of love,
He fawning close on her with idiot stare.
Swiftly they cross the stage. O lyric ease!
The drunken music follows the sure feet,
The swaying elbows, intergliding knees,
Moving with slow precision on the beat.
She was a waitress in a restaurant,
He picked her up and taught her how to dance.
She feels his arms, lifts an appealing glance,
But knows he spent last evening with Zudora;
And knows that certain changes are before her.
The brilliant spotlight circles them around,
Flashing the spangles on her weighted dress.
He mimics wooing her, without a sound,
Flatters her with a smoothly smiled caress.
He fears that she will someday queer his act;
Feeling his anger. He will quit her soon.
He nods for faster music. He will contract
Another partner, under another moon.
Meanwhile, 'smooth stuff.' He lets his dry eyes flit
Over the yellow faces there below;
Maybe he'll cut down on his drinks a bit,
Not to annoy her, and spoil the show. . .
Zudora, waiting for her turn to come,
Watches them from the wings and fatly leers
At the girl's younger face, so white and dumb,
And the fixed, anguished eyes, ready for tears.
She lies beside him, with a false wedding-ring,
In a cheap room, with moonlight on the floor;
The moonlit curtains remind her much of spring,
Of a spring evening on the Coney shore.
And while he sleeps, knowing she ought to hate,
She still clings to the lover that she knew,--
The one that, with a pencil on a plate,
Drew a heart and wrote, 'I'd die for you.'
Conrad Potter Aiken