Oh, Rose, where did all the years go,
tumbling back like an unbalanced acrobat
So how, sitting in the corner of a pub,
did the act so entertaining the crowd
fall into your leading part so tragically?
You poured your drink, surreptitiously as ever,
into another - just for kicks.
The party piece was removing the wig:
a shock tactic staged, so to leer out
from behind those knowing, hooded eyelids.
Tales of the stage mingled with tilting dreams,
as you sailed away - oh, so often - on another voyage
of failed recovery lost in a blur
of florid dresses and garish fingernails.
The botched lip smack meant the make-up artist
had been sacked years before, darling,
along with the valiant, stifled costume designer
consigned to a closet behind the bar.
Washed up, left beached, reed-thin,
your open purse only attracted false friends,
as you fumbled for comfort and pennies to spread.
Everything a performance, just to hear,
again, the applause for one last time,
before the crushed drapes closed on a career
that had drowned in waves of empty acclaim
and corpsed cod lines.
In the end, you found
your most convincing role: lying in a puddle
amidst the collapsed, broken rubble
of another pantomime pratfall;
leaking, desperate, so aching recognition.
In this littered scene, you achieved your desire:
a raw nakedness behind the costume
that had taken a tottering career path to find.
The mantelpiece beau had failed to turn up,
only his empty chair presented itself.
So, you fell in this final script, dressed in a guise
which had tried on too many distresses.
An act not meant for lead roles and fame;
a slow somersault too flip to be caught.
Rose had made a real scene at last.
And left in the clutter of a collapsed curtsy.