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Tragedy for One VoiceEmily Berry
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Vol. 37 No. 15 · 30 July 2015
Poem

Tragedy for One Voice

Emily Berry

318 words

ACT ONE

[Alone onstage with a coffin. Windchimes]

me one: There is a part of me that will always miss what I lost

me two: They all said the same thing in their letters. Poor little ____. I hope she will be okay, poor little ____

me one: I went back to the burned house

me two: Day of the week: immaterial. Time of year: immaterial

me one: Who was there: me and another girl, also me (you) [gesturing to me two]

me two: [angry] During leave-taking from mother: ‘without ceremony, the children were far more distressed than with mother left with the proper rituals’

chorus: Give us this day our proper rituals! Give us some fucking ceremony!

[curtain]

ACT TWO

[A kind of light that is not the right kind of light; screaming]

me one: Somebody said: ‘I am a master of elision.’ I veiled my tended wound. I veiled my narrative. Somebody called it: ‘some kind of gratuitous beauty’. I veiled my photograph of her in sixties playsuit

me two: Somebody wrote: ‘Thereafter, hidden away, in some locked cupboard of the mind, he carries the murderous dead thing within him, an unappeased Doppelgänger, not to be placated, crying out to be heard’

me one: I GIVE BIRTH TO MURDEROUS DEAD THING let it go to swimming pools, meditation sessions, take it on train journeys during which I feel ABANDONED and ALONE –

chorus: I was so small! I was so capable!

me one: I run out into the street. I find someone. I tell them everything. ‘I have got it in me!’ I shout. ‘Undigested! Whole! The dead body of a woman! I am conducting a murder investigation! Victim performed disappearing act leaving empty shell and devastation!’

me two: Why didn’t I –

me one: I’m sorry

me two: What for

me one: For myself

[sound of breaking strings]

me two + chorus (of baritones): SAVE HER

[curtains]

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