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At The Door

 All actors look for them-the defining moments
When what a character does is what he is.
The script may say, He goes to the door And exits or She goes out the door stage left.
But you see your fingers touching the doorknob, Closing around it, turning it As if by themselves.
The latch slides Out of the strike-plate, the door swings on its hinges, And you're about to take that step Over the threshold into a different light.
For the audience, you may simply be Disappearing from the scene, yet in those few seconds You can reach for the knob as the last object on earth You wanted to touch.
Or you can take it Warmly like the hand your father offered Once in forgiveness and afterward Kept to himself.
Or you can stand there briefly, as bewildered As by the door of a walk-in time-lock safe, Stand there and stare At the whole concept of shutness, like a rat Whose maze has been rebaffled overnight, Stand still and quiver, unable to turn Around or go left or right.
Or you can grasp it with a sly, soundless discretion, Open it inch by inch, testing each fraction Of torque on the spindles, on tiptoe Slip yourself through the upright slot And press the lock-stile silently Back into its frame.
Or you can use your shoulder Or the hard heel of your shoe And a leg-thrust to break it open.
Or you can approach the door as if accustomed To having all barriers open by themselves.
You can wrench aside This unauthorized interruption of your progress And then leave it ajar For others to do with as they may see fit.
Or you can stand at ease And give the impression you can see through This door or any door and have no need To take your physical self to the other side.
Or you can turn the knob as if at last Nothing could please you more, your body language Filled with expectations of joy at where you're going, Holding yourself momentarily in the posture Of an awestruck pilgrim at the gate-though you know You'll only be stepping out against the scrim Or a wobbly flat daubed with a landscape, A scribble of leaves, a hint of flowers, The bare suggestion of a garden.

Poem by David Wagoner
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