Wednesday, March 9, 2011

On King Lear in the storm

A man walks and walks. He wants to escape, in these mountains, the shadow of his enemy. That shadow comes upon him like a storm of rain. Walking, he runs, tries not to run, not to be seen to run, lest running make him seem afraid. His baited hurry makes him grotesque. He moves mechanically, like a scarecrow. The wind catches him before the falling water does. He draws his coat around him and pulls his hat over his eyes, but the wind and rain pour through unstopped. He cannot see. Mud clogs his feet, stains his clothing and hands. Falling, in flight, he yells, and finds in that alien sound a way to outwit what he cannot outrun. He screams again and again, and then turns the scream to a laugh. He turns his face to the weather, opening it to the rain. When the water makes him wince, he makes his wince a smirk. He flourishes spray around with his arms, kicks up fresh mud, catches water in his hat and tosses it back into the laden air, or pours it over his own head. He throws shreds of hair into the wind or hurls up soaked paper from his pockets. His mouth tastes of earth. He shuts his eyes to increase the darkness, pressing his palms to his eyes to make flashes that mirror the lightning. He makes of the rain a dancing partner or a puppet. The air is full of water drops, full of children, statues, palaces, and eyes. The storm is full of noises that amplify his speech; it answers his calls and drives other sounds from his ear…what he cannot outrun he tries to outwit, or out-jest; he tries to mock, co-opt, or…make it over into a home or a kingdom. [These shadows] fly in the air, arrive on the rain and wind; they slip behind eyes, echo in the unreadable laughter of fools or the demented babble of demoniacs. They are scattered like seeds on a barren landscape. They conceal themselves within gifts and benedictions, becoming parts of a world. – Kenneth Gross

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