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Top of the Stairs
All the shabby richness of an earlier era,
Deep reds and dark woods abound
At the top of the stairs.
So many people, all elaborately dressed
Mill around seeking a quiet corner
And fail in their quest.
Tall, bright mirrors behind me glitter,
Flanked by actors in dramatic poses
Frozen from their bygone era.
They silently watch the reflections
At the top of the stairs,
And remember other gowns and diamonds
The sound of many voices swirls by,
Subtle jostling, muttered apologies,
Pictures are posed for and interrupted.
I am edged into a slot, next to me -
The bedraggled dregs of an appetizer tray.
No broccoli eaters here, it seems.
A large man stares at the tray and I watch him.
He reaches for a broccoli head then
Withdraws his hand with second thoughts.
Smiling faces, tired eyes, and
Others who appear lost in the crowd;
Drifting like flotsam and jetsam,
They bump along the walls aimlessly,
Clutching their bags and their drinks.
I face a set of signs on the wall
That direct me to dreamlike destinations:
Rivendell. Moria. The Prancing Pony.
Nearby, a table stands and,
Like the Watcher in the Water,
An endless series of hands reach into its bowl
Wrapping fingers grasping free decipher cards.
"Help Yourself" says the hand-lettered sign.
Slipping past friendly strangers,
I slowly explore. There is the poster!
So many cheerful faces with familiar handles,
Grin at me, flanking Ararrat's poem.
Now I know I am somehow,
In the midst of this strangeness -
Rivendell Viewing Room
Rows of Ringers perch delicately:
Twitching and chirping brightly feathered
Tropical birds on their white chairs.
Endless small motions in a room packed with people.
They rustle and whisper,
Chatter, wave and gesture,
Scream, screech or stomp
According to the moment.
The red walls are lined with posters,
Declaring our allegiances and hopes.
Another swish of shiny fabric goes past -
"Excuse me, pardon me"
So many standing in their dressy shoes
I dare not give up my seat lest
I join the cadre of the fashion-crippled.
The huge screen at the front offers
An oversized view of Whoopi's face.
A set of tuxedoed legs squeeze past,
Loaded down with bag and camera:
"Excuse me, pardon me"
We trade places with other fan club folks
From time to time,
Careful not to lose any of the seats we have.
The talking heads on the screen go on and on.
Are those television cameras on the sides?
You're kidding. No - they are. Over there.
The Oscars begin.
The envelope is handed to the person on the stage -
We don't recognize their face and we don't care.
Our eyes are only for that white shape...
The tv cameras suddenly flood us with light -
Heightening the anticipation as
Televised hands fumble with the paper,
Silence punctuated with whispered urgings,
Frantic requests for blessings, desperate and
Intense clenching of fists, holding of breath,
Leaning forward to hear and see,
As if it would somehow help anything.
Every body in the room attuned,
Every set of eyes utterly focused.
Every heart skips a beat as the stage-person
Our world stands still.
For The Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring.
A great sucking in of breath.
Everything becomes a blur -
Screaming, crying, clapping
Feet stamp, shrieking women leap up
From their seats, arms wave,
A catharsis of feelings,
A condensed ball of human emotion in a state
Beyond description explodes in the room.
Strangers hug each other,
Scream excitedly in each others faces:
We got it! We got it! We did it! We won!
Our throats are sore,
We reel from the shockwave we helped release.
Is this real or is it a dream?
An Oscar moment.
Well dressed people, parched and starving,
Are released from the siren call of the screen.
They trail from cluster to cluster,
Trying to not feel greedy when a tray of food
Goes past , tantalizing.
I see a tray of chicken held out -
All of the hands move so gently, casually,
Each person only takes only one, but
They vanish down the collective throats
At voracious speed.
Women dig through their bags and purses,
Adjust their dishevelment from wild antics earlier,
Compare sore throats.
Men heads bend close together
Heatedly discussing the outcomes,
And computer equipment.
Music starts up loud and thumping,
Forcing the people to shout to be heard.
Some dance. Some put in earplugs,
Some just complain.
I wander from clump to clump,
Striving to hear what is being said
Over the music in the next room.
Juz is there, surrounded with ladies,
And Dan exudes his charm to all -
I convince someone to join the boards
And hope I can remember her later.
There is a watchfulness in this crowd.
Deliberately casual, they choose a place
They believe will get them nearest to fame.
And they stay there, casually stubborn.
The relaxed looking fellow by the stairwell
Could not be moved with a bulldozer.
The casually leaning woman by the entry
May as well have her feet set in cement.
Cameras are kept in hand.
The rumors would usually be whispered,
But here must be shouted instead.
"Someone said someone saw someone who
Looked like someone's manager somewhere!"
"Well, we can't get our hopes up, you know,
But wouldn't it be neat if..."
An inner struggle gains an interesting intensity
When magnified in a group.
We all arm-wrestle our desires together.
We want them to come.
We have no hope they will -
But someone said someone saw.
If he was seeking comfort from his loss
More sincere hearts he could not find;
Surely they will provide it.
They love him, admire him,
Respect him, support him.
Dignified, gentle and classy,
Weariness on his face competes
With his well-known smile.
His hands are so soft -
Like shaking a bag of cotton balls.
The room vibrates with energy.
Too many people want to tell him
He should have won.
Want to tell him
He did a marvelous job
Want to tell him
My heart cries out to also speak,
But it is already said so many times over.
I am content knowing that
He already knows.
People wander with glazed expressions,
Or excitedly recount to each other
How Ian McKellan was there -
As if their audience didn't already know.
Blow by blow,
Microsecond fractional replays
Are examined from every side.
"I was standing right there and..."
"He walked this close to me, this close!..."
"I shook his hand! I'll never wash it again..."
"I got a picture...hope it comes out..."
"He is so nice..."
I watch this room full of people
Slowly cool off like a boiling pan
Removed from the heat.
Slower and slower they simmer.
There is the lull in the emotions,
The calm after the storm.
They are content. He came.
It is enough.
A sense of motion somehow pervades,
A change in the sound and the tension of the crowd.
The people near me begin to turn, to scan, to look.
The questions spring from all sides -
Who is it? Has Someone come?
Rumors fly thick - someone is downstairs.
Oh glorious day! Ian McKellan and...
Whoever it is, we only know it is beyond our
Wildest hopes that we should have a
Double helping. McKellan and Someone.
Two others with me, we decide to get seats -
Get them now, while the crowd surges
Toward the stairwell.
Let their curiosity get the better of them!
We feel clever, and congratulate each other.
We've gotten good seats before Someone comes in.
Whoever it is, they will probably come in here.
I have so few shots left on my camera.
I will save them for Someone.
Someone will be standing in front of me -
I am so anxious I cannot hold still.
Time seems to drag.
Sounds of excitement begin to swell -
The curtain of fans is drawn aside
And Peter Jackson enters with his entourage.
Faces beloved, familiar, strange
All follow in his wake,
Trail behind him like a cloak.
They spread out before us, wall to wall,
And smile at the strobe of flashes.
Peter pulls forward a lady forgotten,
A lady we do not know.
"We couldn't have done it without her," he says
And the audience roars its approval
As she struggles with tears.
I have never witnessed such a look of
Love, admiration and pride
As I see on the face of Fran at this time.
She shines with it as she watches him.
He is unaware, turning to another unknown.
"This guy - we couldn't have done it without him."
The audience roars and the man blushes happily.
My heart overflows for Peter and Fran,
For all of them here this night.
They worked so hard to be here - let them laugh,
Let them love, let them cry.
We are only the witnesses,
Voices from an echoing canyon:
"We couldn't have done it without them,
Peter, no we couldn't have done it without them."
A Composer's Heart
When one who is successful admits to fears,
We look at him uncomprehending.
How can he worry that we wouldn't like it?
How can he wonder that we have taken
His music into our hearts?
He seems the epitome of confidence, yetÖ
Any artist's expression comes from within them,
And the music we hear is only a fragment
Of the music behind his eyes.
Yes, he feared.
He reaches out to me and says
"Thank you for the poemÖ"
And I can see in his eyes that he means it.
A reassurance to him
That the feelings he sought to convey to us
Have indeed found their resonance
In our hearts.
A reassurance to me
That my words did likewise.
Why must we all be so fragile,
When we express our souls artistically?
Why must we all shatter so easily?
We imagine well-known artists are somehow
Inured to it. Tougher, more confident.
But this composer shares his fear,
And he nurtures our reassurances -
Yes, his music is well-received.
Yes, it has been understood.
And this is music for his heart.
This is our gift to him.
Honest and warm -
He refuses to go with the other celebs.
"No -" he says, "I want to stay here,
I want to stay with the fans."
An endless round of hugging ensues,
An endless round of camera flashes.
He smiles and smiles and smiles.
"Here - hold this. Isn't it heavy?"
A golden statuette weighs in my hand.
"Yes," I tell him and hand it back,
As if it were burning my palm.
It almost feels wrong to touch it -
I have not earned that privilege.
Yet the one who has is so eager to share!
"Here," he says to another person,
"Feel this! It's so heavy!"
He shares his moment of glory freely with us,
Like a child he delights in our attention,
And our happiness for him is swirled
With his happiness for the others.
He has won many hearts,
This tall, smiling young man,
And he may not realize it but -
He has also gained an army of people
Who will now do anything to defend him,
To encourage him,
To promote and support him.
They would jump down a dragon's throat for him.
After all, that is what you do
For your friend.
Weariness competes with happiness
As the clock inexorably moves forward.
It is the "wee hours."
The party is done, no matter how much
We wish it could go on.
We laugh and yawn,
Shift our sore feet,
Scrounge for souvenirs.
Over and over again we anxiously
Locate and relocate the members of our group.
Is everyone here? Is anyone missing?
One person leaves to find another,
And goes missing in their turn.
This repeats again and again.
Tired and confused, we make our way downstairs.
The limo is waiting, is everyone here?
Another round of mild chaos as we count heads.
We climb in the now familiar door and find a seat.
Was it really such a short time ago we arrived?
It seems days. And minutes. Both.
"I can't believe it's over," says a lady beside me.
"I can't believe it's really done."
In a cheerful but tired daze we make our way back,
So much quieter than we were before.
The ride seems so much shorter -
We are at the hotel so quickly it surprises us.
Our various rooms pull us off in many directions.
We drop off to sleep knowing some of us leave early.
We will not see them again.
A slow breaking of the Fellowship,
A quiet scattering in the night.