Rags of Love by Margaret Lloyd

I am sitting next to Samuel Beckett
and he’s sleeping. The four short plays
are about to begin, my daughter in two of them.
His hands are intertwined, thumbs lean
against each other. He doesn’t yet know
I’m sitting next to him, although
I suspect he knew I would have no choice.
I’m unhappy but not unhappy enough.
He wears brown trousers and I can see
the shape of his knee. His sneakers
are grey and worn, the ties double-tied.
He never removes his stained red skiing jacket.
Beckett stays asleep through the off-tune
violin played by the blind man and the sharp sound
of the cane of the one-legged man in the wheelchair.
My daughter walks on stage. He shifts slightly
and his foot touches mine. I hear him breathing,
inhaling death in a world that is alive.
If you ask me, we were made for each other.
Catrin is pacing the stage—nine steps,
turns and paces nine steps back.
She’s playing me and does it so well.
My mother’s voice is off stage. I look
at my daughter’s feet, those feet I stared at year
after year—all I could see as she stood
in changing rooms in colored socks,
her sad, poignant feet turned out a little.
And now she’s speaking in my voice, will you ever
have done with revolving it all? Will
you ever have done with revolving it all?

Her eyes dead as she looks out at the void.
At the end, after the clapping and the bows,
Beckett puts on his backpack, stands
and falls immediately back in his chair.
Do something for me before you go.
But he gets up again and disappears.
Legally blind, I was told later by the director—
he worms his way in free and sits in the front row.
I’m thinking I could stay here forever with my head
on an old man’s knees.


Margaret Lloyd has published three collections of poetry: This Particular Earthly Scene (Alice James Books), A Moment in the Field: Voices from Arthurian Legend (Plinth Books) and Forged Light (Open Field Press). A poet and painter, Lloyd is Professor of English and Chair of the Humanities Department at Springfield College.