The Great Spectacle
The Great Spectacle
I knew him before they shackled him to chair
I contend, none knew him better than I
He's tall, charming, quite an elegant air
An athlete lissom, a kite in the sky
What happened you asked, what so deformed him
Crippled his independence, left him ill?
The doctors said osteo-arthritis
But a disease is never its own cause.
I will tell you how he told me, listen
There is a madness meaningless in us.
The happy night I went to sleep, we lay
Like children in each other's arms, snoring
The cockcrow and bird call woke the new day
Fresh air and old love, and life adoring
Shall we breakfast with family today
Or to some lake, picnic paired, wander free
A vehement no, a tone for the fray
I rose for the bathroom, shocked at lost glee.
I would return in silence, let her speak
The calf gets more milk just by being meek.
One step from hallway and into the room
I felt a sharp pain announcing my doom
A shadow from behind a door, a groan
My loins exploded in my head, nothing more.
How long was it, I cannot tell, a moan
Of pity, a kinder hand to restore
Consciousness again. The back crumbled then
Degenerated more and more with time
Things smelling salts and linament can't mend
He functioned well in intervening years
Running, swimming, the ardent athlete
A few interruptions, grimace and tears
For wasted life and love and great defeat
You do not start from bottom starting new
Again, but from a deeper hole of doubt
A deeper fear. It crippled him he knew
Not how, nor how deep the scar remain. Out
Now, you must go; leave the great spectacle
The man who prayed without miracle
And yet still believe this end serves some cause
Some greater purpose than himself. I pause
To reflect, then limped away, the sick loin
Begins in the old sickness of the mind.
What could he not have done, the great lovers
He denied for honor, the high esteem
Of wealth and fickle praise, but love covers
More than faults in the mangling of the dream.
The scholar, the poet, the statesman too
Wears shackle invisible on the heart.
Love measures the height of what we may do
Yet men go all the way in, not in part.
See your great spectacle bound to a chair,
Crippled, defeated ... perhaps, something there
Strangely smiling, beyond the eyes of fear
He's tall, charming, quite an elegant air.
Copyright © David Smalling