Just once can Violetta fly to Paris with Alfredo
and Tosca not leap from the parapet.
Just once can Leonora refuse to swallow poison
and Brunnhilde ride her horse down to this fragile earth
instead of into Siegfried’s funeral pyre, living
on to tell stories of the gods to her grandchildren.
What would it take to find just the right incantation,
just the right resolving chord or
set of syllables to alter the outcome?
Circling on the loop of a Mobius strip,
we watch Madama Butterfly, bitter and abandoned,
stab herself again after blindfolding her small son.
We watch Mimi die in a frigid attic for the fiftieth time,
hear Rodolfo’s agonized cry as the curtain lowers,
and allow our frozen tears to flow.