A SMALL ESSAY ON THE LARGENESS OF LIGHT
We spend so much of our lives in darkness,
we're comfortable there, kids under covers.
Even more so in the kind we create
for the audience. And though lights may rise
and discover actors stepping onto
the stage or there already in a scene,
we're not surprised by their brightness, only
and still after all these years by their size.
Only the moon at dusk above a dark
horizon shows such magnification.
It's a quality that can only be part
of a dream, we explain, or illusion.
Look at that actor, the way he turns with
his prop telescope toward the pin prick stars
in the back drop sky, a gesture so huge
up there on the stage, it has to be true
he's the Galileo we learned about
in school, it has to be now he's about
to divine the shape of the cosmos. Why
else would he be taking so much time? You
don't suppose he just forgot his next line?
Too cool, too comfortable, that magnified
actor, that magnificent player is,
for that to be fact. Oh the way he holds
the stage is a lesson in beautiful.
It's all about star quality, he's sure,
though like the moon, he shines by reflection.
Looking for his light, he turns, about to
monologue, and his Galileo gaze
falls through the fourth wall onto the people
out there in the hall. His Galileo
eyes let him see us here as we've never
seemed before. It's all, he's certain, about
vision, but for more than that, he doesn't
quite have words, except those the play allows
and they pull him now toward catharsis and
conclusion. Only a spirit, let's say
Galileo himself, proprietor
of that lens, having been roused from his rest
by an actor's performance --Did I not
tell you the guy was good?-- looks into
the black auditorium (the dead do
see in the infra-red) and finds --even
more of a surprise-- the sky we are, oh
the retina shine of eyes looking back.
Indifferent night never shook him as
much as our eyes do, rapidly shifting
through a waking dream, illusion in lieu
of disbelief. These eyes gape and even
he finds himself reminded of the flesh.
They're closing, opening in unison,
taking in the action up here on stage,
the true Galileo hearing a song
in the night. Oh how unfamiliar
eyes have become since his death. Was ever
he at ease with these pin prick lights, crimson
hunger's nightmare glare piercing the back drop
those bodies are? All these legions, all these
mouths so alive in the darkness. The ghost
pulls the covers back up over his head