Ex Machina by Nancy Reddy

The chorus girls descend, their wings a wonder
            of feather and zipline. The oboes
     in the orchestra pit yawn
as if to gulp them whole, but the girls
            are singing & so swallow down
     their fear. The villain shows himself
too soon & is all wrong for this play –
            not a dashing captain but a pirate
     with a stickshift for an arm & a stopwatch
where his heart should be. Where the audience
should be – the rows of lovely velvet seats
            and numbered placards, donated
     by the dead or named for them – there’s
only sea. The violinists do a kick turn
            and set out into the waves. What happened
     to the playwright, to the plot? Who will stitch
the thread of girl to theme? Who will,
            when the curtain closes, unhook the beauties
     from their wings & turn them back
to girls, wrap terrycloth robes around
their sequined bodysuits? We cannot wait
            for angels. We’ll be our own gods now.
     Watch us swinging from the rafters
like a lifeboat or a bird of prey.
Nancy Reddy’s work has appeared in Smartish Pace, Memorious, Best New Poets 2011, Best of the Net 2011, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is currently a doctoral candidate in composition and rhetoric.