“Good luck,” according to backstage tradition,
Would bring us bad luck. What we say instead
Is “break a leg.” Still graver superstition
Attends the tragedy we love to dread.
We swap tales of a curse that haunts the play,
Of casts bewitched with broken legs and worse.
Rehearsing other shows, we never say
Lines from that one. Our fear, in a perverse
Amalgam with our pride, says we’re so good
At being so bad, we might brew up real charms,
Might rouse powers able, like some upstart wood,
To move against us, wreaking untold harms.
We’d hold the mirror up to hell and death
If we but spoke the play’s name, so we don’t.