Voyages from I to Thou.

Location: Skellig Michel, Ireland

Monday, December 13, 2004

Watching "King Lear" (1998)

All the readings
of this play
& all the arias of critics
who sang its greatness
(lately reading
Bloom's dark pearl)
bring me here tonight
to watch King Lear on PBS
but shelter me no better
from this wild crack
in our skull with
its blood torrent
of grief and rage
thrilling eye and ear
with the eternal death
of fathers, nations, kings,
and millennia at the
hands of what
we love so deep and dear.

Perhaps it makes
no difference what
was crucified here,
which nail pierced
the caul or whose
blood washed the stage:
This pain is
primal, geologic,
chiseled into
the heart's basalt
as rivers mourn valleys
and days shrink to
zero and love always
loses to night,
a bier strolling
offstage into what's
forever empty.

Will those words
suffice, deeper and darker
and more divinely
terrible than
all our common deaths?
Don't ask Will:
he's less than dust
and none of his children
were survived by
their own. All that
remains is this
pyre of words
which burned
for hours in every sinew
and nerve as I failed
to sleep that night,
desperate to wrap
myself in warm
loving things,
stroking old mean
ass Buster cat
where he curled on
the bed and watching
my wife as she slept.
Wishing I could
hold them forever
without Lear.

And then --
would you believe it?
A storm gusted
over round 3 a.m.
I listened to its
slow approach
from sighs to troubled
breeze breaking in
a flurry of wet gusts
that slapped and
dashed the roof a
few times, made
one vicious swipe
that made my heart
leap and then fled.
How I loved this
house right then
for holding steady
against that storm,
our bed like a bridge
in a great ship
crossing the night,
wrapping us warm
in all Lear lost,
drowning his voice
in down.

Let the future come
and wash away
what Will. Ghosts, like gods,
fall from ripeness into
the dark we coffer.
Heaven wakes
every dawn upon our
fluttering lids.
This isle of heart
and home between
life and Shakespeare
is pearl enough.

If only "King Lear"
were not echo
and shade
of the day's first kiss


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