Monday Morning Musings:
“We do on stage things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”
–Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
“Were there words beyond which they could never touch, or did all that is possible enter their consciousness? They could not tell. .
E.M. Forster, A Passage to India
“This train doesn’t stop at City Hall”
(the conductor says)
as the world streams by
the rushing tracks,
clackety, clackety, clackety clack,
the engine hums, it’s zhhhumy zhumms,
my reflection in the window sways
I am traveling there
but does part of me stay
(a train beat away)
spring is a promise whispered over a wall.
“Please silence your cell phones and other devices.”
(the announcer says)
before the start of the play,
a somewhat dated farce,
act two and three are clever
better than the first
the play within a play from backstage, reversed
the stage rearranged, the set turned around
so, front is back
a player tumbles and falls,
and we see it all–
again, as the troupe performs months later–
each actor then has two roles,
and the timing and action is right
but as a whole,
well. . . it was OK
we both say
and the tickets were free—
something to see
with excellent seats
in America’s oldest theater,
so now it’s later
and we walk and talk
see spring a-springing,
the birds still singing,
eat a giant bowl of fries
(in a very noisy bar room)
then wander back to cats and home,
to see the daffodils still in bloom.
The next day–
(still no stops at City Hall)
“The kitchen is small,”
says one man to another,
“But the apartment looks out at the rocks, and
the water is right there.”
“Maybe Rehoboth would be better,”
The other man murmurs
he has to stay in New Jersey.
We exit, a bit early,
before finding out if they make a plan.
“A little shifty,” that man,
(my husband says)
as we walk out into the day—
where now spring is more than whispering,
and we say, yes, this weather, please stay.
We walk through Washington Square Park
I insist some roots look like feet
though they’d find it hard to tap a beat.
Trees are blooming in pink and white
Washington Square Park, Philadelphia
and people are out to see the sight
of them, feel the gentle heat,
sun on their faces,
filling the outdoor spaces
and even the walls shout of spring
Mural by David Guinn
while the birds trill and sing—
(“Phoebe Phoebe, sings the chickadee,
“Peter Peter” the tufted titmouse calls,
and the mockingbird repeats them all.)
Spring fever all around
Penn’s green country town.
Please silence your cells phones—again,
the play is about to begin,
and thought-provoking it is,
the playwright’s words are his,
but “a fantasia inspired” from Forster’s book
though people and countries are never named
other than with letters,
Country X and Country Y, could be any nation
the characters not assigned by the writer to any gender, race,
or sexual orientation,
F, R, H, M, D, Q, J, B
plus, a mosquito and a gecko–
and, of course, there are those echoes. . .
we hear them, reverberating through now, the ages,
all around us–
and on stage, thus–
F speaks of the people in the darkness,
Dr. B is arrested for a crime he did not commit,
and G breaks the fourth wall to talk to us
and yes, it’s a bit uncomfortable–
Are we supposed to answer her out loud?
I wonder, and are we different from another crowd?
Later, I say,
“I’d like to see that play all over again with another cast.”
How different would it be to see people of a different race,
or gender, play the roles we just saw?
Because, I think, we must draw
pictures in our minds—leap to conclusions—
have preconceptions that we cannot help but make,
and would it break them–
if what we saw was not,
well, exactly the same.
I imagine this part of the writer’s aim.
(I learn there is a hashtag, #ChenMindFuck)
but my mind is rather more struck
than fucked I think,
and we have much to discuss over food and drink.
Can one be friends with one’s oppressor?
The idea leads to variations and degrees of power
not only of gender and race, but
CEO and factory worker, student and professor,
Black Lives Matter and #MeToo,
seeing things from another’s view. . .
The server brings more bread,
I wonder what lies ahead.
We walk and talk back to the train,
ideas swirling in my brain.
“This train doesn’t stop at City Hall.”
but time flows through spaces and goes to places
Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.
Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt to use sound. “The poem, for example, could incorporate overheard language. Perhaps it could incorporate a song lyric in some way, or language from something often heard spoken aloud (a prayer, a pledge, the Girl Scout motto). Or you could use a regional or local phrase from your hometown that you don’t hear elsewhere, e.g. “that boy won’t amount to a pinch.”