Spillway Review

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              Puppeteer’s Assistant

                 by Daniel Shapiro

For years you’ve worked for him,
watching the comings and goings
of disembodied heads and limbs,
matching flamboyant clothes
with their proper genders.
He applauds you through
exaggerated movements.

Usually you remain
in the basement apartment
he supplies rent free.
You sleep and toil there,
never finding time to leave,
your only memory of light
a beam on a lacquered wooden face.

Sometimes the din of construction
penetrates the balsa-thin walls,
sanders smoothing rough fingers.
You would demand quiet
if only you could hear,
if your flexible body didn’t bend
into the cramped space so easily.

Someday soon, your boss
will send you on an errand
to pick up some string.
You’ll get to see the outside,
to feel the sun’s rays warm
the tattered reins that keep you
held up, a delicate dancer.