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Poets are Present: Jessica Young

Poets are Present is a poetry residency in conjunction with David Ives’s adaptation of The Metromaniacs. As part of this unique theatre/poetry exchange, the Shakespeare Theatre Company is proud to host more than 30 D.C.-area poets in the theatre’s lobby. Throughout the run, we will share with you the poems that this residency inspired our guests to write. Visit our Poets are Present page to see a list of upcoming poets.

Jessica Young‘s award-Young_Jessicawinning writing can be found in her book of narrative poetry,Alice’s Sister (Turning Point, 2013), her chapbook, and her individual poems and essays that have been published in venues such as The Massachusetts Review andRattle. She holds degrees from the University of Michigan (MFA) and MIT (BS). She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and their two cats.






The Bird on the Branch

By Jessica Young 

sees what the audience sees—actors fake-falling ontoJYoung Picture
fake-stones, the comic slaps from across the stage,
friend-foes soft-stepping toward each other pre-duel.

The bird, like the audience, senses the lights overhead
sliding into one another, touching the air into soft blues
and yellows. But the bird? It sees, as well, our faces

bloom into smiles with each bwain/brain iteration.
Sees our wit-happy eyes alight with each clever rhyme.
That ‘amazing paraphrasing’. And as the candles—

real candles!—are lit and begin to flicker, the bird
readies itself for the closed curtain. Watches us as we
cozy up in coats, anticipating ice-slicked sidewalks.

But if we’d stayed,

we’d have seen the theater lights go off one by one.
Seen each candle blown out like a birthday wish. If we’d
sat there in the darkness, we’d have heard the only

remaining sound: air whistling through the ceiling’s
vents, breathing movement into the set’s mesh branches.
In the darkness, we’d have seen the bird’s branch seem to

sway. And in the swaying, we’d have heard as the whistling
air thawed into birdsong, as the forest awakened to a rustling
of birds—so many of them now—among the branches.

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