Closing this time last year as Olivia in Twelfth Night at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival 2021.
"Make me a willow cabin at your gate, And call upon my soul within the house; Write loyal cantons of contemned love And sing them loud even in the dead of night; Halloo your name to the reverberate hills And make the babbling gossip of the air Cry out 'Olivia!'
The Wish plot. 9/11/95.
You go along your life⠀
for a year,⠀
doing ‘what the living do’⠀
Until ONE DAY⠀
it is your birthday.⠀
And on that day people celebrate life by putting it into a cake⠀
With candles on top.⠀
The candles signify your years – each being lit, one by one, offering light, little generous lamps seeming to say, “You made it this far and look at all that you can see now? Let’s try to keep going.”⠀
So one by one they are lit⠀
and your little birthday face starts to glow from the amber fire – and, as rituals often go,⠀
people begin to sing.⠀
Song is what happens when a moment deserves to transcend.⠀
Drunken serenades –(I’ve done a few, okay????)⠀
Your little glowing face knows that once this song is over, you must make a WISH.⠀
So you don’t have a lot of time,⠀
but the song being sung⠀
by those with love in their voices for you⠀
is ushering you to the moment of decision – the brave act that must occur.⠀
You let the song transfix you as you gaze into those years of candles: what shall I wish for?⠀
For my mama to feel better?⠀
To be able to sing like Mariah Carey when I grow up?⠀
For more Barbie’s?⠀
To be able to make people LAUGH REALLY HARD?⠀
For my brother to think I am cooler?⠀
For me to be able to never forget your face?⠀
You decide on your wish,⠀
the song is coming to a close,⠀
you hear your mama say “Okay make a wish, Bonnie Brown!”⠀
You close your eyes tight,⠀
ready to gear up all that you can muster for this wish, breathe in big, and blow them all out.⠀
Opening your eyes now, all you see is just a little ringlet of smoke⠀
and the house you grew up in has a different table ⠀
and the lemon tree outside has died.⠀
25 years have gone by.⠀
You have made a few people laugh. You have tried your damnedest to sing like Mariah Carey. You had a few Barbie’s. You have made your mama feel better… but not always. Your brother has at least once or maybe even*twice*thought that you were cool. And there are so many faces that you will never forget.⠀
But I want more time. I want to eat so much more cake.
the tree grew abundant with lemons
fast to the ground they would fall -- almost flying.
so many ripe yellow friends upon the earth, their plenty pulled the breeze into a smile
and then came the tall, brown-eyed, Promethean brother
seeming to say, "are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
to the small, brown-eyed, beloved little sister.
picking up a sunny citrus he tossed it across the lawn with a wiggle that sent her laughing.
so many times you could find them laughing.
across the yard they'd throw them -- those wielding spring time lemons
catch or miss, but never lost; the meaning of being a sister.
there, with his lanky arms and groovy style he'd send them flying.
toss or wait, but never leave; the meaning of being a brother.
she'd pick one up in her own flair, knowing how grand it was to make him smile
since she'd seen him so many times without a smile.
and what a golden gift it was to hear him laughing
to play together in the sun in the same old backyard with her dearest brother.
the way that nature offers itself to you through the joy of lemons,
is a reminder to us all that the earth and all within it can send the imagination flying.
what a singular miracle it is to be a sister.
just as the bean relies on the corn, what richness the soil is for each sister
peeling these nourishing plants in harvest from dust is the origin of the smile
and happily in the morning, singing and feasting, the birds are flying.
around the world, like every new and sacred day, there is reason for weeping and for laughing
and every spring the tree will drop its lemons
and not every spring will there be your brother.
but now there is a spring with your tall, brown-eyed, Promethean brother!
now is the time to be his small, brown-eyed, beloved, sister!
so get up, get out there in the green and play catch with lemons!
make your cheek bones sore with a smile!
make your bellies ache from long hours of laughing!
send those lemon balls high into the sun, flying!
every hope they ever had for each other, are those stars you can glimpse above shooting and flying.
what a singular miracle it is to be a brother.
and there will always be that old video of us playing lemon ball, with mama in the background laughing.
wanting to make you proud, wanting to be your best friend, yet always, inescapably, your one and only sister.
how all things were made in design according to this: we share the same big-mouthed smile
and that, for a time, the backyard we grew up in fostered a tree overflowing with lemons.
now, at the scent of lemons a smile will come to the sister,
remembering them flying from the dancing arms of her brother,
holding the memory of him laughing.
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