Monday’s papers sing your praises.
‘What a show’, they say,
‘what a final performance’.
Hear the echoes of an applauding audience
as you exit through the stage door.
The crowd wants more of your play pretend,
a curtain call to delay the end
of your tour de force,
but I’ve seen this theatre piece before.
It’s deja-vu, I don’t need to read the reviews
when I watched you write the script,
editing out the bits where your heart lived
and calling it a work of art,
calling it method acting,
like you were just playing the part of the bad guy.
Carving your lines into my chest
for it’s so easy to forget
where the breaks come, where you pause for breath
before cutting out the section
where I had your respect.
Now I’m nothing but a prop in your creative process,
one you dressed in full costume
and cast as the princess,
kept in a tower
like the damsel in distress you wished I would be,
one that needed saving and would never be free
until you rescued me.
But this is the Disney story that never made it to screen,
where the hero and the villain
are two sides of the same person
and the princess doesn’t know which version to believe.
His charm is all that everyone else sees
but with her it’s coercion, it’s invisible chains
that succeed in depriving her of liberty,
threats that prevent her ability to leave.
He tells her she’s easy, that when she speaks
to male friends it causes him anxiety
and why did she like that guy’s picture on Instagram?
He bets she wouldn’t care if he killed himself,
she wouldn’t give a damn, and that a week later
and her legs would already be open to another man
as she tries to convince him
to step away from the train tracks
but he says he can’t bear to be without her
and with another apology she decides to take him back
because as he says,
if she loved him,
she wouldn’t just give up like that.
His monologues win him an Oscar
and five stars in the national newspapers,
he’ll definitely be remembered
and she’ll never forget what he said
about where she’d find his dead body in the valley,
about how it’s her messing with his head.
Fed lies that spun a spider’s web
that make her blame herself instead,
speeches that made him famous,
convincing the world that it’s love in these pages
as she internalises all that hatred
and for biting on his bait again
he’s offered a residency in the West End
for his perfect portrayal of the heart broken victim.
So as the fans queue for his autograph
she’ll don her disguise and quietly slip past,
return to those train tracks
and follow them till she reaches the station,
booking a one way ticket to a new destination
as she’s plucked up the courage to say it’s not her role to fix him
and this time she’s prepared for the tricks.
Like every good actress, she’s grown a thick skin
and as the train leaves the platform, the lights dim
as she takes her cue to curtesy,
raising her head to watch the credits roll in.