The Epic Poem [home] [contents] [comments] [discussion] [shop]
       A Verse Narrative by Michael E. Mautner


60



    He will not forget this date:
        "11 March, 1938"
    it declares like the Decalogue
    had one of those broken slates
    been stood up in the melting snow.

    In front of her gray gravestone,
    and Pa's right next to it,
    Clark Kent stands alone.
    People leave and he stands alone
    and still for hours on end
    as the sun sets in the west
    and frost gathers on his gray vest
    and the coyote in the Southwest,
    in Santa Fe and environs
    in his ears, howls at the gray moon,
    that speckled crescent of gray sky
    that sears the clouds with fluorescent
    gray (Blood of the Hunter-Goddess!)
    pouring out Diana's essence
    of gray light onto his bowed head.
    Moon midnight! The glowing vessel
    tips and rests straight up overhead,
    as, to the moon at its noon, Clark howls:
    "Ma!         Pa!"

    At the ground he howls the words,
    monosyllabic codewords
    for the past and all he has known;
    at the ground where he has stood
    these hours with them below
    as the worms begin to burrow
    into their privates.  There he howls:
    "Mother!          Father!"

    At the stars he howls the words,
    duosyllabic codewords,
    shibboleths for love and a place
    in the world; at the grey-black sky
    where parents biologic lie
    (or float?) in pieces like pie-crust
    as it breaks and flakes away,
    as it crumbles into a dust
    not hardly recognizable,
    but looking suspiciously like...
    the stars, if they were brown, not gray.

    His cries shake the ground beneath him
    and he would like to pound it too,
    to drive his fists into the dirt
    until nothing hurts anymore.
    (Imagine the damage he'd do
    if he did.  You will have to,
    because I'm not telling.)

    He has been yelling
    at the top of barreling lungs
    for fifteen minutes running
    when he stops and contains himself,
    checks to see that no one's coming.
    Good: No Smallvillans have heard him.
    Except one.  He hasnít been alone.

    Lana Lang looks around her
    at what Clark's deep voice has wrought,
    at the devastation it's brought.
    What resonance can chip, can crack
    two headstones in one wailful cry
    and tear the veil of the night sky,
    its cloud mask, right down the middle
    to bare Diana's gray moon-face,
    beaming, to the mourner's screaming
    and the rainwater falling
    hard on his tongue? What kind of voice?
    What sort of man?

    "Lana, I want to be alone
     now," he says, petting her hair
    so red, her cheek so fair.
    "No one should be alone
     at a time like this, Clark," she says,
    taking and kissing his pale hand
    as it strokes her.  He understands.
    Suddenly, the way lightning lands,
    he knows why a picture is worth
    ten thousand words, and that action
    should be more valuable than both.
    Then, just as suddenly, his hands
    are both upon her waist and they
    are lifting off to meet the moon,
    she above him slightly, within
    the shield of his embrace.
                    She screams,
    and screams, and screams.  She's a'crying,
    fears that soon she'll be a'dying.
    People weren't made for flying!
    She passes out, limp in his arms
    before they've even passed over
    the farms they have known all their lives.
    They are all she will ever know.
    That much is clear to him now.
    He starts crying himself and blames
    himself for ever even trying.

    Lightly he lands near the Lang home,
    having flown in trench coat and tie.
    Into their barn he strides to lie
    her down on a bundle of hay.
    She is soaked, and he drenched,
    both are wet to the bone.
    He dries her with a warm breath blown,
    then sits and whispers comforting
    words hypnotically in her ear.

    Then he will go.
    The secrets are not hers to know.
    He will not tell her anything,
    not tomorrow or the next day
    or ever.  He can't.  Will be kept --
    all the secrets -- not for sharing.
    She can't handle them -- he has seen --
    she is too weak.  It would be mean
    to stay and taunt her with false hopes.
    Secrets like his can kill humans.
    He watches her tortured sleep:
    She bites her pink lip, so... hurt.
    Let it all have been a bad dream,
    then, he tells her through her deep sleep,
    whispering words of comfort
    hypnotically in her ear, sweet
    nothings of another kind.
    Then he goes to clear his own mind.

         * * *

    It was all a bad dream.
    That at least is what it seems
    when Lana rises all alone
    and palely loitering on bales,
    mascara run, blackened die bled
    across her face (by salty tears,
    no doubt); and, she won't ever know
    what this night was all about.
    Still, she too must go on.
    She leaves her father's barn,
    walks over to the Kent farm,
    hoping that Clark hasn't gone.
    He seemed so upset last night, and...

    She's past where the farm should have been.
    It is gone.  House and fields and all,
    they are gone.  Lana is alone.
    She will see Clark Kent again,
    once, before he leaves their hometown
    for good; but, for now (all gone; all!),
    as she grows faint, she is alone.
    And she falls.  Lana falls alone.
    That's all.

     



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