According to the Script

Encounter with a friend, acquaintance
or just someone in a bar
is merely a pretext to display
your theory of what you are.
 
Absorbed in your own performance
you applaud or criticise,
and only to watch your reflection
do you look into his eyes.
 
Or, if a contrast’s noticed,
it’s to serve as a backcloth
useful for the setting
and to show your costume off.
 
He thought you concentrating
when you were running through
your lines rehearsing gestures
while waiting for your cue.
 
Still soliloquising you said goodbye,
went on, and never knew
that the stranger, the other
had been speaking to you.

Veronica Forrest-Thomson, "According to the Script" from Collected Poems and Translations. Copyright © 1971 by Veronica Forrest-Thomson.  Reprinted by permission of Allardyce, Barnett, Publishers.
Source: Collected Poems (Shearsman Books, 2008)
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