Hold Perhaps or Maybe to Land
At the gallery is The Kiss
– you know the one –
Those two marble lovers, oblivious, entwined,
Stealing a moment never meant to be seen.
Did they know what would come, I wonder.
Do you know they had names?
They're Paolo. And Francesca.
In another room sits a woman, nude,
With two men, clothed, on sun-dappled grass.
Some picnic. Is anyone thinking about the food?
There's a bridge over lilies, war-tattered sails,
And of course there's a girl
– here in headscarf and pearl –
Who stares back and dares us to understand her world
And to understand each world
As captured on canvas
In painstaking strokes, meticulous lines, and
Exuberant, jubilant swirls.
Except – wait – I think the word captured is wrong.
To hold, perhaps. Or maybe to land.
As in a butterfly lands,
As in a landing in time, on the canvas,
Of this bridge, this girl, in this light,
As it is, now.
As it was, then.
We are just the latest to use pigment and brush,
Charcoal on paper, a chisel on earth-hewn stone
To uncover some part of a why
Or a small part of sense
And to transmit in lines that reach across time:
This is how we are.
In September '01 I read Hamlet while my city
Smoked. Burned. Fumed.
With his play the prince held a mirror up to nature
And the reflection there of our infinite madness
Gave to me some sort of sorrowful comfort.
Now, after Manchester, Vegas, and Parkland,
After so many places between and since and before,
I see Francesca reaching for Paolo
– though they must have known they couldn't be –
And I think that those who say they have the answers
Haven't fully grappled with the questions.
I didn't ask to be cast without reading for the part,
Without deference to the ones who staged the set
Or who handed me the starting lines
On that December morning.
Or for any special favors, really.
If it's strings you wanted, you should have been a puppeteer.
On your journey have you yet learned
That to direct is not to clamp, create not to command,
But instead to be the guide that lets the ones on stage
Come to the light, and in the light then find
The words they need to say?
It's all improvisation anyway –
There is no script.
No harm in that.
It just takes trust.
And no harm either in refusal of direction.
Have you never known the generosity of
A different point of view?
Stage left might have been my place.
But that's different from knowing where I stand.