Cruel is the Lesson of the Play
A Narrative Poem – Cruel is the Lesson of the Play


The Stage is set

Four metres off the floor:

Windowpanes in frames of steel –

Seven vertical as A, B, C, D, E, F, G, –

And nine horizontal in a row, which

Sums up to sixty and three squares.

A sheet of plastic, transparent,

Is taped on window panes, except

At lower left, pane One A, the tape

Gave way, which forms a gap,

An access to a narrow space

Between the glass and plastic sheet,

While two metres lower, a door is

An entrance to the factory’s premise –

And also exit, out into

An endless SPACE.

This is the stage where play begins

With RED ROBIN emerging in low flight,

Soars upward through the rafters, back

And forth, around, in the attempt to exit at

The windowpanes into the blue sky.

Looking on, I’ve given up to count

The futile returns, to break the rift

From space to SPACE.

RED ROBIN aims repeatedly for the sky

But crushes anew into the hazy wall.

It’s all the same –

What seemed an exit at first –

Becomes deception.

I nod my head and say: when will birds

Ever learn about those windowpanes,

And open the door below, but my signal is

In vain. RED ROBIN discounts my deed, so

As if this was another trap.

Then, startled by the many rejections

To penetrate this translucent wall,

It stumbles on to the gap at pane One A,

Squeezing through the narrow space

Between the glass and plastic sheet, on

To One B, Two B, Three C, across, up

To Nine G – then slowly slides down

To Eight B – hard pressed against

The glass, resting, hesitating.

Again, I shake my head:

There’s no way out, I say –

If only you would know but

You are just a bird.

RED ROBIN flaps once more its wings,

Squeezes upward – reaches Nine G – then lodged

And cornered – kicks, flutters in despair, with dust

And feathers flying until the tape on window pane

Nine G gives way – presenting the escape.

All right, I say, relieved.

If I could fly, I’d show you the way,

But then if I could fly,

I wouldn’t know.

RED ROBIN continues to circle, then aiming

Again, beak first, at the transparent wall

(With no lesson learned), slides down to find

Again the gap at One A where itself winds up

The narrow space onto the top, in search of

An exit as before, while I know,

It leads to nowhere.

Every so often, I take time out to see

RED ROBIN passing through the maze.

I try to measure its intelligence.

Most combinations have been explored, so as

To choose the moves in chess. However,

Despite the pattern – how innovative the play

Progresses on the sixty and three panes –

All hope must shatter on square Nine G

And new faith dwindles more and more

Every time at One A.

This is the play – and how I sympathize!

Somehow I must fulfill my own task, which

Is nothing more but drowsy repetition.

I sense that I return continually to

My own Square One. And I keep thinking –

Could this, up there be I?  Perhaps it is

And someone at another level, outside

Myself, is watching me – is nodding

Its head – all-knowing while I, stubbornly,

Insist to break a transparent wall; while I

Repeatedly choose the way alike

The bird that ends in a vacuum, then

I exit in vain without a choice, repeatedly

To find myself only at old beginnings?

It’s getting late.

The Village beneath 1999

RED ROBIN’S flights are slowing, so do

All efforts to penetrate the glassy wall, only

Advances through the narrow space,

From window pane to window pane –

Still fluttering, squeezing upward, somehow

It reaches pane Nine G, exhausted at

The end but dim beginning of the cycle.

GIVE UP, I say – do not pursue

Your unknown fate, when RED ROBIN,

To close and finally, drained of strength,

Glides slowly down along the wall to meet

A gentle breeze, warm sunlight through

The open door that sends it renewed

With energy into the infinite SPACE.

And here, I nod my head and say:

So it must be – although not fair –

Cruel is the lesson of the play,

To Which one, inside is not aware,

But when one is then he can see –

It breaks one’s heart

To witness such

Blind agony.