Caffeine Theatre is pleased to announce the winner of “Golden-Pointed Darts, Or, a Contest in Poesy to Honour the Incomparable Astraea and other Adventuresses, Spies, Writers, and Thespians.” Congratulations to Amanda Williams, who submitted the following three poems exemplifying the themes of theatricality, adventure, and eroticism which are hallmarks of Aphra Behn’s work.
Sometimes I Acted Backstage Too
In that cramped store room
amid a circus of props and costumes,
in the weak glow that creeps from the low-watt bulb
that we leave on during performances
you press me hard against a teetering shelf
and kiss whatever skin my glittering costume does not cover
(the tips of my fingers, my heaving breasts and neck)
between scene 3 and 4 of the first act.
I hear my cue approaching
and pry Nathan’s hands from Adelaide’s waist;
I brush off the stray blonde fibers
from my platinum wig
that cling to the lapel of your suit jacket,
and staunchly pull my garters back up
for the top of the next scene.
I reapply my lipstick, smooth my rumpled crinoline
as I wind my way through the darkness;
this is the third night you’ve almost made me late.
My heart thuds along with the snickering audience.
Beside the stage left curtain,
I catch a glimpse of your silhouette
in the prop room’s doorframe,
dust floating around you in the dim light
of that bulb, flickering.
“Bavaria boasts miles of unspoilt natural countryside and picturesque landscapes ideal for walking, relaxing, and enjoying the the proverbially laid-back Bavarian attitude to life...“
The smells of pig farm and wood smoke leak through the crack in my visor
and root me to a spot on a map of Southern Germany; we race
along a spiraling road between fields and petite villages, the leather of his jacket
sticky against my bare arms wrapped around his waist. Its 7pm, the heat from midday
is settling down into a summer evening. A low sun spills through the cracks
in the clouds. Another smell - the syrupy aroma rising
from the leafy, tangled strawberry fields. I am Marilyn Monroe
as my white cotton skirt billows up around my waist, pink lacy underwear
on the leather seat as we take the corners a little too sharp. When we pass through a village,
the old women shake crooked fingers at us, clearly mortified. I fog my visor
with exhilarated breaths, and set my fingers in the spaces between his ribs
for balance; when he leans into a turn, I lean, our bodies revving
and synching together. I feel the immense weight of the wind pressing on my head
as I turn to look out; the horizon is dotted with delicate church spires,
one distinct point or cross high above the tiles of terracotta – two white onion domes, Haindling.
Feeling less that pious, I grip him even tighter as I feel him shift his weight
backward, into me, and the adrenaline makes my thighs contract, my stomach
twist like a pretzel. As we near home, the setting sun is now the deep gold color
of Erl-Brau beer; I stare into it, feeling half drunk already. I’m sure when I take off
this heavy helmet, my hair will be a disheveled mess, like I just made love to Bavaria.
I have the urge to fawr-ni-cate. I want
to run to the barn, rich humidity
of August filling my skin so I swell
like a creek in Spring, the hot flush of desire
melting all my Christian values into oily streams
of sweat running down between my breasts.
I want the hay to stick to our naked bodies, pricking
just enough to confuse pleasure and pain. Lord,
lead us not into temptation, but deliver
us from evil – I am thrown over these bales,
this altar of love, where you worship me
like a passionate heathen, with ragged exultations
and groaning praises. I want an unholy storm
to kick up, to pound the tin roof with hammering drops,
to drown the sounds we make. Oh, pray for us sinners!
After that clap of perfect thunder, when the tongues of flame
have burst from our sweaty heads we’ll run bare-assed
to the creek to bathe in the dark water, but not to wash
the sin away; no backwoods baptism can cleanse us but,
as we look into each other’s sweaty, dirt-streaked faces,
we are born again.