WHAT PLAY IS THIS?; THIRD GRADE; SCAPEGOAT
By: Claire Scott
WHAT PLAY IS THIS?
Definitely the wrong play. I had auditioned for the lead in Siren Song. The neurotic
alcoholic wife who is cheating on her husband. Thought it would be great fun.
Close to home. But how did I get in this boring play. Hardly any lines. Just a dull
housewife who plays solitaire while stroking her cats. Her big line is, “But I already
fed Lucy and Petunia.” Who cares about cats anyway. And I am allergic. Sneezing
through rehearsals. The lead woman has fat thighs and fake hair. She gets the sexy
man with a two-day beard who totally ignores me. Both on stage and off. Even
when I wear stiletto heels with leg-gripping jeans and gobs of make up. Even when
I invite him for a few drinks after rehearsals and who knows what might happen
later I whisper as I touch his cheek with my Bold Cherry Red acrylic nails. I have
sent my resume and headshots to over six hundred directors. Two in Kazakhstan.
Five in Burkina Faso. Apparently this is as good as it gets. At least for me. Today the
producer said the play is closing. Only twelve tickets sold. All to me.
The teacher taps me on the shoulder
time for another trip to Mrs. Gardener
who asks a lot of questions
is your mother home after school
what did you eat for dinner last night
who leans over her desk and looks at me
with soft green eyes, glistening lipstick
and upper arms that jiggle as she writes
her office smells of lilac
I am scared of her, scared of a wrong answer
should my mother have been home
does it count if she locks herself in her room
and won’t answer when I knock
is Spaghetti O’s with burnt lima beans
a real dinner if my mother doesn’t eat
only drinks endlessly from a glass with ice
and throws noodles at the cupboards
clapping if they stick
This time she reads questions from a Test
I know it is Serious
I look at my lap when I answer
my school uniform bunched at my knees
my saddle shoes tapping the legs of the chair
I think I am doing pretty well until she asks
if I count church bells when they ring
I know one answer is right
the other means I am crazy
Mrs. Gardner smiles, encouraging
her pencil poised like a guillotine
See: Leviticus, chapter 16
And two goats were brought before the priest,
one for a sin offering and one for a burnt offering.
Lots were caste. One goat was slain. The other took
on the sins of the congregation and was sent
forth into the wilderness.
I don’t know about killing one of the goats,
animal rights folk would not be so keen on it, but I think
we could all use a personal scapegoat who lets us silently
pile our misdeeds on his wooly head: the petty foibles,
the stolen nights, the white lies and bottles of bourbon.
I clicked on Amazon and ordered a large Saanen goat
who arrived last night, a stinking ball of bleating
and farting fur that ate my prize-winning roses
and head-butted me with gnarly horns.
I fed him hay and tin cans and began to recite my sins:
sticky fingers in the tip jar, deductions to nonexistent
charities, stealing Percoset from my eighty-year-old aunt.
He wasn’t at all interested and ate my peonies.
I continued with come-hither Kate and Leslie of the big boobs.
I noticed my goat was staggering around the yard,
falling to his knobby knees.
This is not how it is supposed to go.
I apologized and took back a few minor peccadillos:
a lingering kiss with Leslie next door, a forgotten first anniversary.
I put them in my pockets along with some used Kleenex.
Then I let him loose in the local park,
the closest I could come to a wilderness.
Hours later two police officers arrive in a van,
my goat standing proudly in the back,
chomping on the polyester seat.
Claire Scott is an award winning poet who has received multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Review, Bellevue Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Enizagam and Healing Muse among others. Claire is the author of Waiting to be Called and Until I Couldn’t. She is the co-author of Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry.