Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Chapter Six: The Ivan-man Cometh

It's five minutes until starting time. Todd's pacing back and forth behind the stage - frequently he scans the audience members. He doesn't see her at all. He's almost panicking. Almost.

"Oh hell, where could she be? I bet it's that damn car of hers. The thing is only a step up from a Model T. No, shut up Todd. I'm sure Mrs. Darson will be here. Well, she better be, at least. She's one of our best customers. And there's still that accident with the tiles..."

Checking his watch, he knows that it's time. Todd comes climbs up onto the stage and approaches the microphone.

"Good evening, everyone. Thanks for coming to The Lit Snob's weekly literature reading. This whole thing has gotten off to a great start, and I'm sure that it's only going to get better. Tonight, we have Ivan Stankowski, an accomplished poet who has utilized what some critics have called "archaic, dead language and form." Personally, I love his work, and I'm sure you will too. So, here's Ivan Stankowski."

Slight applause - the usual Lit Snob snobbery. Stankowski climbs up onto the stage. Sitting on the stool, he simply opens his small book of poetry and begins to read.


"Racing ahead -"


Mrs. Darson bursts through the door, panting heavily and apologizing to everyone - to all of the patrons who have whirled around to greet her with disbelief. She finally apologizes to Ivan, who nods in acknowledgment, and then begins again - Todd sighs deeply from off-stage.


Racing ahead to the spot,
Where? Amidst the trees, she thought,
To find her cherry leaf,
And tend to its icy grief.

The clouds did imprison the moon.
And so as darkness fell,
The angel’s wings did swoon,
Lost, she alone, in Hell.
The trees, around her bent,
Against the stirring wind
Now, their tears long spent,
To assail the lone they begin.

The cherub again takes flight,
Searching with all her might,
To find that leaf so dear,
And bring it to her bosom near.
In the shadowy nooks of the wood,
The trees doing all they could,
To punish she who forgot,
The helpless Love she now sought.

And by accident they did claim
The frightened one, full of shame.
A root, rising from the dirt,
Caught her woven and silken skirt.
Down, down she fell,
From Grace, and in a spell,
Landed, gazing up alone,
Her head stricken against a stone.

As the maiden lay,
Her head writhing, crimson, and wet,
Her eyes, they fluttered shut.
In the wintered woods she stays.
And as the wind nigh grew brief,
Along its drifts did fly,
A single, longing leaf,
And its virtuous love it spied.

Falling against her still heart,
Whilst the sun o’er the treetops shone,
The leaf did mourn and exclaim:
“My Love, How changed thou art!”


Ivan stops, thanks the audience, and is met with no applause. Instead, everyone is nodding their heads and smiling. That's all - but it means everything from the Lit Snob crowd. Stankowski smiles in return, then stands up and leaves the stage in silence and completely content. Todd climbs back up to the microphone.

"Thanks for coming everybody. We're actually not decided on a reader for next week ... so ... come for the surprise of the week - it promises to be a classic! Thanks again!"

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