Ron Tobey πŸ”ˆ

Summer Theater

The red barn theater squats
in a cattle field trimmed to the ground
for ten summers grass bluish green
In slant light of hot afternoons
as bright as a lawn in Newport
running down to the splashing sea
from Gilded Age mansions with forty rooms
where waves slosh breakwater rocks
we are uphill from lake Winnepesaukee
cosmopolitans crowd this humble place
applause ripples upward the slope
from first row patrons who can see cue cards flash
behind curtains in the wings
to cheap ticket back-bench hoorahs
summer stock theater’s aging actors
work vacations for extra cash forget lines
whisky deepened voices try to sing
Broadway musical songs
piano in the pit
an elderly lady plays humming along
church organ on Sundays
Saturdays the playhouse evening show

Intermission in cooling last light
this northern latitude site
stars birth in the moonless night
cool air rises from lake waters
bad reviews mingle gossip among patrons
festive around folding tables erected in the grass
punch canapΓ©s liquor you buy
dew setting under high heel ladies' shoes
gentlemen’s cordovans and black and brown socks
mid-calf dresses in pale pastels
light Merino sweaters snug under Harris tweed jackets
laughter rises with hors d’oeuvres and gin
from young women full of estrogen
and glances from men

Cars of all makes are parked nearby
but the MGA roadster top down
racing green without the stripe
draws my envious eye
the mother in flowing floral straw hat
and ankle-length dress in passenger seat
her daughter a sleeveless party dress patterned faint pink
a sweater on her shoulders in peach
reddish blonde hair draped to the thin straps
must be sixteen to drive
private girls college in two years
my license a year away

My uncle drives us home slowly in his used Buick sedan
familiar Route 3 over the mountains
behind us briefly in the roadster
at Meredith she turns onto 25 toward Center Harbor
mentions he saw her at a regional Episcopal convocation
niece of the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York
he toured the diocesan mansion in Greenwich
she was the guide.

Winter will deliver to her
handwritten invitations on note cards
borders embossed in black ink so fresh
it could be smelled if held near the nose
dress-up dinners in eight-room apartments
the Upper East Side close to the Frick
seated opposite young men attending
Phillips Andover
St Paul’s
Phillips Exeter
wearing blue blazers
school emblem on the breast pocket
serving staff in the corner

Audio Track

Read by Stuart Buck with music arrangement by Stuart Buck; find him on Twitter @notstuartbuck. Wild Mountain Thyme (Instrumental) by Ed Gerhard is licensed by Triple Scoop Music.

About the Author

Ron Tobey grew up in New Hampshire and attended the University of New Hampshire, Durham. He and his wife live in West Virginia, where they raise cattle and keep goats and horses. He has published in over forty digital and print literary magazines. Find him on Twitter @Turin54024117.