Glance sideways

Glance sideways into the wings,
and you see the tacky preparations
for the triumphant public event.

You see your beautiful suit deconstructed,
the tailor’s chalk lines, the unsecured seams.
You see that your life is a charade,
that the scenery is cardboard,
that the paint is peeling,
the red carpet fraying

and if you linger you will notice the oily devotion
fade from the faces of your subjects,
and you will see their retreating backs
as they turn up their collars
and button their coats

and walk away into real life.

(From Royal Bodies by Hilary Mantel. Submitted by Angi Holden)