now what?

an abstract

(c) Gerald Richter

Exhausted words that dribble from faltering pen, enchanted into icy silence.  Stillness, memory, listening in wounded silence for the sound of words that will not ring again.  These are the songsters, the merrymakers, the mummers–befuddled through sleep-ridden eyes.

They have lost the words of singing.

Outside on the streets, worship the rush and the warp.  Here come the paraders, masqueraders, riddlers, tippling their wares for the fortieth share of a half-worn drumlin.  Dash the worn pages from weary hands, tumble away those fools who cannot keep their feet.  These are the rulers, the aspiring ones, the pursuit of a nullified dream.

They are not laughing, these hordes.  They are not weeping.  These are the ones who run, success in their eyes and their dreams at their teeth, sand falling from their sacks to drivel in rivers at their heels.  They will not turn around to see, nor will they speak of it if you ask.

Inside, the mummers are weeping.  Unmasked now, unwritten words singing just beyond the riddle of their thought.  Silence, where hours before the dissonance of laughter raked loving fingers through the air, clearsight unhidden in the morning.  Listen.  You can’t hear it, either.

Only the rattling shouts and panting of the running fools outside, the pursuing ones.  They are running down.

Long fingers scratch quill on parchment, the vacant light deepens.  For a moment a glimmer of song, a whispered melody.  The faces that hide behind masks brighten.  And they weep harder.

Now they’re running, stumbling outside into the torrent of mourners.  They are masked now, the scribbled parchment in their hands.  They swim through the whine of the wind, and they are laughing.  Sing the songs of silence now, amid the clamor of pursuit, the halloa of horn and hound.

Turn your eyes away or you will see.

See the stream unstopping, the pursuit unending.  See the laughter-rent faces, worrying at their dreams, up the hills and over the cliff.  See the city bleed in winding sacrifice.

Turn your eyes away.  Or you will see the mummers dance, dive, twist and whirl through the cliff-side stream.  You will see them sing the songs of silence, though unless you are one of them you will not hear the singing.

You will see the sand they caper in, poured from the sacks of the rules, the hunters.  You will see the sand they carry themselves, bitter from their weeping.

These are the merrymakers.  These are the dreamers.

Do not look.  Keep your eyes on the sand before you, give no heed to the sand at your back.  Do not look, they will taunt you.  Do not listen, they will entrance you.  If you see, you are lost.

They will change you, with their capers and their singing.  They will win you with their words.

They will make you laugh.


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