On days I wasn't in school, I'd cross
into its chill dark, descend
that steep carpeted aisle, sink
into my worn plush seat, as dark-

rimmed eyes from the Odessa Steps
sequence of Battleship Potemkin pleaded
with me from the murals covering
both walls, though I ignored them, intent

instead on those shadows
before me, much larger than I, but condemned,
it seemed, to confront me with all that I was
missing or, of course, had yet to miss.

One afternoon I watched Cocteau's
La Belle et la Bête twice in one sitting,
each time disappointed by its ending,
not yet understanding

that such disappointment may have been
the artist's intention, though even Garbo
is said to have cried out when she first saw it,
Give me back my beast, as the lights

came up for her as they would for me,
and I trudged back into the lobby
unsettled because I had eaten nothing
but concessions that day, and because,

glancing back I could see
only ushers sweeping up,
while ahead of me burned
a day so bright I wondered

if it would hurt like that forever.

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