The Patricia and Emmett Robinson Prize
Debra A. Daniel
Tomorrow Afternoon the Fifth Graders Will Hold Auditions for the Spring Play
Petruchio, they clamor to be Petruchio,
but they will end up memorizing Baptista’s
fatherly woes or lovesick Lucentio’s wooings.
At first, they will sulk over not being cast
as the only man in Padua clever enough
to tame the obnoxious Kate.
They will not-so-secretly long to wear
the hat with purple feathers and to brandish
the fake sword with swirl and flourish.
They will all be guests at the wedding.
That’s a given. The tallest one
with the deep voice will be the preacher,
and one of them, the one who stutters,
will be saddled with Third Servant.
The one who cannot sit still and talks
nonstop in class will don the horse’s head,
be allowed to stomp his hooves, neigh,
and rear his equine mane of variegated yarns,
rusty brown and burnt cinnamon and sandy tan.
The new boy who comes in next week
will simply learn to pulley the ropes—
hand over hand over hand—closing
and reopening the scarlet velvet drapes
for the final curtain call where Kate
and Petruchio will bow and bow again,
and from the wings the others who are not
Petruchio, all those un-small ones, will watch
and sigh, knowing just how well that feathered hat
would have fit so perfectly upon their heads.