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Theatre In my days as a child of a catalog America, in days of continuous children’s programming, in days I memorized a Psalter of jingles, days of compulsive song I can remember the cardboard puppet theatre, cut with holes for stage & curtain rods A cost-effective Punch & Judy show, a scissors & paper game, we took for precious stone. We stood it upright & then stood inside it, making believe we stood inside a private television, letting the backyard stand for the nation. Rhododendrons whispered in the hushed audience, as we stuck our hands through the openings, struck one hand against the other & the rioting began. The gentle gold-stitched king was deposed, & Barbie, his denuded youngest daughter, was taken up out of the dirt & beheaded. An armless GI Joe led his legions of Snoopy erasers to storm the invisible fortress. We broke out our bags of plastic soldiers, all the weaponry of the playground, sticks & stones, stop watches & stun-guns, & in some cities there were demonstrations. Raised voices. There was hair-pulling, kicking, & names were called. It was anarchy & having gotten a taste for it, we vowed to return to the set, the next day & the next, to come & play till the inevitable hour of mothers’ voices, to stumble & fall, break open the scabs of childhood, discover ourselves in the depths of our toychests, & sing the hymns of our sponsors. M. ALEXANDER I am my parents’ music but when my father’s clashed against my mother’s, I tried to link arms with quiet, to find it in the rests, in the darkness of fast, pounding notes that anger had lashed together. Silences were tight knots in my throat, but quiet swam with me in the lake at night, our bare skin smoothly slipping through moon-cooled water, while my parents’ music fought softly from the distant porch. JUDY MICHAELS THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21 JULY 23, 1999