Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Trouble of an Ampersand

Romeo lies next to the water
And listens to her song as she runs
He closes his eyes and wonders 
Wonders if he's doing the right thing
Juliet comes up out of the river
Water drips down her skin and fingers
And she sees the boy lying there beside her river
And she thinks of all the pretty songs he sings
And Romeo wakes to the cool touch of her skin
Her finger tracing words on his bare arms and legs
Trails of water that he imagines is rain drops laughing
And he does his best to keep pretending he's asleep
Because Juliet has read the script too
She knows how their story will end 
But here on the hidden banks of the green river
Here where the madman's quill can't find them 
There is a moment of peace and of desire
Romeo knows this but keeps his eyes shut
Keeps pretending he is just asleep and this a dream
Keeps pretending that he doesn't know she's next to him
And Juliet wonders why he's resisting 
And Juliet leans down so her lips are by his ear
And she whispers, "Come away with me.
I can hide you here, in the river."
And though he keeps his eyes shut he whispers
"I cannot. I am not Ophelia after all. 
And in us is not the power to alter our ending."
And he hopes she understands his meaning
And she leans in again unthwarted
"Come away with me, into the water.
We must away if we are to be together.
This is the sacrifice in the joining of hearts."
And he knows all too well the truth of her words
But tells her instead a story
"Once there was a man from the distant plains
Where mountains of sand meet the seas of dust
Rivers are fire and boil red like blood.
There live the descendants of Lot's wife, the people of salt
And among them was a great warrior
Who having defeated the last of the great dragons
Journeyed south from the fire and salt lands
Seeking another adversary to best.
This great warrior came to the forest of iron
But the iron was turned to rust 
And melted as rivers of molten lead under his blade
Then came he to the great canyons of the wind
But no matter how the great winds howled
They only made his salt skin stronger
And he stood as a pillar unmoved and unshaken
Then came the victorious warrior at last
To the lake of perpetual silence
Where no bird, no beast, no man and no stream
Make sound or utter a single thing 
For fear of the maiden who lives in the lake
Who slumber beneath waters and dances at night
And though warned was he still he made his way
And loudly burst forth in the sacred glade
But instead of finding a lake witch to battle
He fell in love with the lady of the lake
As she stood waist high in the water
Bathing her pale skin in the moon light
And instantly desire for her overtook him
And he ran to her there in the lake
But ere he took two steps he cried out
Because his boots dissolved into the water
And then his feet with them as well
But she bade him come closer and deeper
And that this was the price all salt men had to pay
If they wanted to be with her
And so he pushed on further and deeper
The water at his waist the water at his chest
And all the while his body dissolving slowly
As if eaten alive by an army of ants
Until he reached her and took her hand
And then his face disappeared beneath the water
And then he was no more a man
All that was left in the glade 
Was the white foam of the salty waves
And the dead lake in which nothing now could live or grow."
And Juliet felt her heart grow heavy
And she inquired why Romeo would tell her this tale
And he answered her then plainly
"I am a boy of salt and you the daughter of a stream
On my own I can be strong and sure
And you can bring life and laughter and songs."
Juliet stopping writing then and asked
"But are you saying we together will only bring death
Is that not the end of all things anyway
Did the playwright not already give us our ending."
Answered Romeo then, eyes still shut tight
"But the death I speak of us not a separating death
This is the death of the self dissolving in the "one flesh"
and we will no longer be ourselves."
"But is that not the point of love"
Juliet spoke with fervor and passion
"Does love not imprint itself on our souls
And make us do the things we never would have thought."
And Romeo did not say anything in response
And Juliet did not do anything in reply
They listened to the sound of the rain begin
Dancing drops on the river's gleam
"You are water and I am salt
You bring life and I preserve it
Individually but in tandem we work fine.
Filling the niche the other leaves bare
But once you mix us, once we become one
We no longer can do either of our function
And all we will be left with 
Is the bitter taste of tears.
And then there will be no more Juliet
No more Romeo, no one will recall. 
They will forget you as the maiden of the river
And the songs I sang and stories I told. 
We will then be trapped in our vial of tears
Forever "Romeo & Juliet" our fate
If I open my eyes we will be together 
But if I open my eyes then it will be too late.
Let us savor this moment of silence
Let us cherish the quiet hours still
Before long they will fly from us
Either reason will sate the playwrights quill."
So Romeo lay eyes still shut by the river
And Juliet stood unsure of her way
Would she return to the river a while longer
Cherish the time before it reached the end
Or would she lie down next to him and force the issue
Make him open his eyes and relent
Should she fear the salt water as he does
Should she embrace the ending written for them

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