Mirth

Hugo Williams

The lights come up, the stage is bare,
the audience goes on sitting there,
row upon row of gleaming teeth,
set in expressions of dutiful mirth
for something they have now forgotten.
Someone has spilled an ice-cream cone
from the balcony onto someone’s head.
It trickles down over his forehead
and from there down into his lap.
We see the smile fade from his lips,
the lips fade from his mouth,
the mouth slowly wither from his teeth.
Now his jaw drops open on its tendons
and a look of horrified understanding dawns.
The urge to clap is irresistible.
He finds this is no longer possible.