Monday, September 10, 2007

The Mist

I am the mist. I am the stuff of illusion, filtering light and bending it to the mind's own purposes. I am the stuff of both ghosts and of dreams. In me men see the figures of their own hopes and fears. I veil the real. I make palpable the imaginary.

I am the mist. I spread the morning sun in generous fairy clouds so that to the brown and angular man who rounds his corn crib in spring it seems his farm rests within the very center of the sun's golden sphere, casting its richness to the world. In me he sees his dreams. Wife and children barefoot frolic in summer. His cracked fingers curl comfortably about the traces of his plow as he begins to break his land free in spring.

I am the mist. I span an ocean in gray confusion, parting to let pass the hulls of merchantmen-- tea, spice, rum, tobacco, hemp-- I part before and close behind these heaving wooden merchant men. And here passes a ship of soldiers only--red velvet, tailor cuffed, and ruffled. Here a soldier stands against the rail to peer westward across the bow. In the roiled mist he sees what I show him, and I show him his own dreams. He sees a crude, ungrateful people in need of his own velvet touch, plunging there in scarlet, westward haste.

I am the mist. I rise above a river on an April morning. The huddled men do not clearly see the men upon the farther bank. I make all a shadow. I muffle the feet and shroud the faces. I roll from the lungs which shout order and anguish in bedlam. I tumble on the laughter of victory. I slip along the ground, over the eyelids of the dead.

I am the mist. I roll across the long arched footbridge of time so that you upon the farther shore see but imperfectly. I drape recollection in legend. Look now with the eyes of your own dreams. What images shall you find? What ghosts step forward and recede? Peer through the mist across the bridge of time. Look upon Concord of an April evening. It is the river. Always Concord is her river. Wide-sliding, trout deep, pewter hued. It has trickled from snowbanks, fallen from marshes, lingered in ponds, until joining and joining in natural confluence, it comes and becomes the river....

These are the opening lines of A Flurry of Birds, a play commissioned for the Bicentennial 31 years ago. We performed it at my college, and I played the part of "The Mist," the narrator of the play about Concord in the hours surrounding the infamous day the "shot heard round the world" was fired. I dug up my lines (typed on a regular PCs back then you know) in a box in my classroom this morning. I've been asked to participate in a special program a week from Saturday night where people will recite/perform selections of things they learned in college. I chose this because it is one of my favorite roles in all the plays I've been involved with (quite a few over the years). I love how the words feel in my mouth and how easily they roll off my tongue. The playwright has such a great sense of the language!

1 comment:

Sunny said...

Hey "Misty", you picked great pics to go with the narrative.