IT IS

One-Acter.

(Him in his bed. An open window. Nardo and Tirés.)

Ravens on the crags or solitary smiles wanting neither food, nor clothes, nor love,
staggering perched upon the hither side
where every watercourse fell swoln, grasped to possess a kind of second life.
Noisy rivulet, from verdant hills we came with a homely hope to be forgiven,
every hundred steps, stretched at ease we laid
worn mangled limbs over my tiresome indolence.
TIRÉS: [Near the bed, gazing down at the man in it.] ‘Another tourist, Heaven preserve us!’
NARDO: [Near the open window, looking outside.] ‘What a feast. Preserve? That is not why we are here.’
TIRÉS: [Impatient.] ‘The loiterer!’
Saw mountains; saw the forms comfort each other haunting over the infirmity of love

its glittering wire, sparkling foam. Ice breaks and perilous waters
we’ve christened a field: two books
reared amongst, fared through, engendering both in a bare ring, a mossy wall
tempted to entrust.
Entering, when evening was far spent in teasing matted wool,
twin cards toothed with gentle care, each in the other lying locked
us: a pair of diaries to chronicle fallen eaves and past time.
NARDO: ‘Drooped and pined? Just like the rest?’
TIRÉS: ‘Nay, Sir, for aught I know…’ [Once perused the man lying there.] ‘Cheerful mind of thoughts in a pretty flock; busy hands of a thriving man; I tell you, he took his way and only then he began to doubt.’
NARDO: [Pointing at the sky.] ‘Had he forgotten?’
TIRÉS: ‘Such confusion in his memory!’
NARDO: ‘Had he lost his path?’
TIRÉS: ‘It seems, if such freedom may still be of any use to him.’
NARDO: ‘God forbid!’
Venturing to enquire tidings, blood and bones to margin the precipice
our dialogue ensued through distant miles, and more: led aery,
stopped only at complacency all of us have wished
for the two bells of our crowned hopes
from height to height to lay half-buried,
under a cloudless sun, valley, heap or carded turf in the same loneliest place.
Strange alteration waiting beneath every side: expectations, we want, we try
our fickle winds
to blow from the same breath through days and weeks
images and hues that wrought
and could travel every hollow place to trace the finger of mortality.
NARDO: ‘The happy bounds! The festival of their inheritance!’
TIRÉS: [Finger pointed.] ‘Is it… a tear long down his cheek?’
NARDO: [With little interest.] ‘He thence might learn.’
TIRÉS: ‘Three months? Six months? How long?’
NARDO: ‘Following his fancies, by the hour.’
TIRÉS: [In doubt.] ‘To me he does not seem to wear the face which then he had.’
For the following thousand years morning came
with all its mealy clusters of ripe nuts to feed the ravens; filled
the steady sail with determined purpose, seated
upon the long stone beneath the shed that over-arched our day’s gate,
no ill was feared,
till one,
acquired by the traffic of our many darling pleasures darlings to each other.
Welcome come and welcome gone and you,
even among these rocks, looking around these rocks for the stars to appear
in one of your stray brooks, judged
ploughed, midleg deep. Ours was rent with lightning so long
as dearly, untoward in its weary line we are not all that perish.
NARDO: [Earnest.] ‘And be in no doubt my friend, not to go unnoticed at least, as from now, he has relinquished all his purposes.’
TIRÉS: [Resolved.] ‘Rapid and luckless fortune it is then!’
NARDO: ‘Remind me to write fool upon his forehead.’
TIRÉS: ‘Such is our piety.’
Heedless of the past; as you may have noticed about this rude churchyard
where world’s business is to hear strangers talking about a stranger,
here’s neither head nor foot-stone, nor emblem of our former hopes. Stone-cutters
we might beg our bread for the same turf we have tread, everlasting hills
that strive with such a torrent, they can write

‘Ay!’

and speak too; well,
historians hanging in the open, tarry, parted or communed have interchanged.
NARDO: ‘Have you just heard him?’
TIRÉS: [Learned.] ‘Land, with other burthens, interest and mortgages: at last he sank.’
NARDO: ‘Indeed.’ [Then, to himself, gazing outside the window.] ‘Pretty much the same chasm here.’
TIRÉS: ‘One roaring cataract that is!’
NARDO: ‘No symbols Sir, tell us that plain tale.’
TIRÉS: ‘Forgive me. [Paternal.] A gushing from his heart. That, took away the power of speech as we know it. Just one serving and a disquietude unknown to him might have stopped him from talking but to himself.’
NARDO: ‘Perpetual holiday, idleness and the humour of the moment! And that is what we almost overlooked.’
Far from wanting facts or dates, some hastened glances spurred along yon ridge; storm
and entreating thaw beneath the trees where we were tempted: and there we were,
two springs that bubbled cherished side by side. Toiled and felled wood you
may turn in your conclusions and wanders from the truth;
I, the other,
left behind to go wild alone, still lingering there whether foul or fair,
re-born, blew creep or unbridged, am flowing still forgotten,
even though to disappear would be joyous
in a web spun to store flowers that will grow where another absence
another sun is setting
over this love done to spare.
NARDO: [With back-and-forward steps.] ‘Conclusion. Conjectured.’
TIRÉS: ‘Sir?’
NARDO: ‘Tis a common case: no more.’
TIRÉS: ‘Sir…’
NARDO: ‘Given a Bible, I’d wager house and field that, if that was not that particular spot only he knew…’
TIRÉS: ‘Sir!’
NARDO: ‘His home, his heart…’
TIRÉS: ‘Sir: it is the third day after.’
NARDO: ‘Failed with him.’ [Short silence.] No! [Short silence. Then, to himself, looking at the bed.] ‘In him.’
TIRÉS: ‘Sir!’
NARDO: [Stormy.] ‘Am I speaking here or what?!’
TIRÉS: ‘Sir. This: it is.’
NARDO: [Determined.] ‘And more than once I have seen him…’
TIRÉS: ‘I beg!’
NARDO: ‘You half-weep! [Impatient.] Speak then. Well? What is that you want?’
TIRÉS: [Long silence, then, with a grave voice.] ‘We brought him here. To us, Sir: do remember.’
NARDO: [Long silence.] ‘Lifted.’
TIRÉS: ‘Stolen.’
NARDO: [Silence.] ‘Cleft.’
TIRÉS: ‘Stolen.’

Curtain.

Massimo Fantuzzi, 2020

Remixed work:

The Brothers, by William Wordsworth

The Miller and the Gleaner

Behold her, single in the field,
Caught in the center of a soundless field,
Across the millstream below the bridge…
Earth has not anything to show more fair.

Diligent in the burnt fields above the sea,
A sweet disorder in the dress,
Hair — braided chestnut…
Love, unrequited, robs me of my rest.

Bill Waters, 2015

Remixed Works:
First lines of poems by William Wordsworth,
Philip Larkin, Howard Nemerov,
Josephine Miles, Robert Herrick,
Jean Toomer, and W. S. Gilbert.