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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

THEATRUM MUNDI

"When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools."--King Lear

Somewhere in unsorted memory
there is a photograph, merciless and clear,
exposing a moment that cries, a showoff child,
Look at me!
For it is of children, seated at a long table,
smiling, maybe singing.
... It is of me, of course, as fascinated
as any narcissist by my prefigured reflection.
For I am 2 years old, in the house that was my house,
with cousins who were my cousins and may be yet:
and we are smiling because it is my birthday.

How can a 2-year-old smile save happily,
without expectation of the saddened sneer
that learns its way across his face?
I want to tell him I have read the script,
I know what's coming, and there is no hope for you,
you cannot leave and save yourself
before you learn the lessons I will teach you
by taking my next step forward.

The room itself is a proscenium,
and beyond this special theater
there is the dreamscape that holds all memory
unsorted, out of time, awaiting only us
to shape it by going out to meet it in daylight,
smiling easily, with ignorance, hardly guessing
at the pratfalls and ass's heads,
at the love-lit storms, at the discovery
that we wait only for ourselves,
and by the time we arrive at where we are,
we are too heavy to hold, too old to be warned
that to leave the moment is to lose the frame forever.

- Kenneth Wolman

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