The Dignity Of Ushers

By Al Maginnes

Their authority did not unfold
from ironed white shirts and thin ties
or from the funereal seriousness that struck
their acne-splashed faces but because
they stood heir to our native faith in light.

So we followed the thin white waver
of beams they pointed down aisles
to seats we never thought of refusing.
It was the first job I wanted,
especially after birthday outings

far from home showed me the glowing
outfits worn by big-city ushers, their get-ups
a blend of doorman and military dictator,
as gaudy and fine as the plots
of movies my Saturdays were swallowed by.

None of us knew, as they took us
into the artificial light of the cinema,
that they walked the path of the pin setter,
the blacksmith or elevator operator,
professions reduced to curiosity

by wandering time. Only in the quick steps
of floor salesmen, the slim backs of hostesses
bringing us to our tables, do they remain,
the artful flutters of their flashlights lost
in dark we are left to find our own way through.

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