Thursday, November 09, 2006

"A Life"

By Alan Rowland

A thousand years ago
An actor rose to take a role,
And took his bows
To start the show.

The script was new to him,
Yet all his lines
Appeared before
A blank, white scrim,
Although the script appeared so dim.

His lines were somehow known -
This actor played his role
In so many other plays of old.

In miracle, he grew -
The play rolled merrily along,
And with a jolt
Began Act Two.

He stood far downstage left,
And spoke in brief soliloquy
Of life and love
And dreams, with no monotony -
His speech brought tears
To even me.

He paused, with gratitude,
And slipped applause
Inside his costume's tattered folds,
And thus began
Within Act Two's unfolding scrolls
A darker, cruel Act Three.

Act Three brought tragedy,
Or was it merely comedy?
For theater draws the thinnest line
In struggle for sublimity,
When greasepaint slips

In sweating heat,
And masks fall in
A piling heap;
Dreams awake,
Yet still asleep,
Stumbling for a voice to sing,
Recalling that
The play's the thing.

Artist and writer Alan Rowland worked for many years in New York City as an illustrator and art director until illness robbed him of the use of both hands. Five years ago he moved to the countryside in southern New Jersey, where he began to write poetry about health, illness, art and loss.

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