The Green Room by Michael Murray

Room-smell assaults you,
grabs by the throat, halts you.
It’s fear, old friend, so you relax
into its mirrored high-lights.
But something else attacks
behind fear; it’s the high
of preening confidence, strange,
unsettling. I don’t know you. Why
do you direct me
in your great scheme?
You think
to ask, but it’s one sip
of a whole draught of asks.
And there’s the rush, flurry,
of coming and goings’ hurry
on split-second timing;
laboured hearts and breathing;
numb tongue, lost lines and clothing.
But the pace and sudden swing
of lights carries you through
and somehow it works for you.
It’s as if the room
had wrung you out. But still
you walk out there
top of it all, of self’s hill.
                       And the room
welcomes you home.