copyright © 2002 Clinton A. Johnston

Untitled

(old piece)

by

Clinton A. Johnston

No Shame Theater 8/2/02

 

[In this piece, one performer stands upstage off-center and reads the text, while another performer sits DSC (down stage center), pantomimes a mirror in front of him/her and then proceeds to examine himself/herself in front of the mirror with slow but anxious scrutiny.

 

Though the text is written like a poem. It is not a poem and is not meant to be read as a poem. It is meant to be read as straight text in a serious but strait forward.

 

It was originally performed with music as a backdrop, a slow and spooky Philip Glass type piece.]

 

 

I have, of late, become obsessed with aging.

 

I walk past people in walkers and wheelchairs,

Canes and white hair,

I try to see them for what they were

Staring

Past their stiff, slow gates,

Past their slow climbs up stairs.

Or at least trying to stare past.

 

Step

Step

Step

 

Step

 

Can I see them? Can I see how once they were?

How once, they strode; they lept; they ran.

 

Once, they bounded around the corner

Lovers and friends in tow, oh my.

Laughing and racing towards a night's

Revels with spit and fire and polish

Because with enough whiskey, flash, and sheer hutzpah,

They could take on the world,

The whole goddamned world.

 

Can I still see those people

Are they in there

Through those wrinkles,

Behind the bent frames?

Is there any one of them left in those movements,

So fragile,

So slow?

 

Step

Step

 

My friends are young.

They have smooth skin and sure smiles.

Quick laughs, comfortable generosity,

Blessed. Blessed.

 

But breasts are beginning to droop

And bellies are beginning to pot.

And me

I kneel and stand not just using legs but using

Hands and hand holds and sometimes grunts and

Always a little pain

That wasn't there before

And may never go away.

 

At night, we sit and measure what we started the day with

Against what we have left for the next.

And we're very tired. And we go to sleep.

 

I look at teenagers

And I swear I was them just last week.

Yet now they look like children

Wearing grown up bodies like costumes that aren't done yet.

Like, how did this happen?

Like how, I can only imagine, I must look to

Friends who are twice my age.

 

Am I a story that they've read and/or seen over and over?

Am I a figure they first dreamed years ago?

Do they look back at me from further along a path that I can't see ahead,

Shake their heads and say, "So young. So young"

 

Step

Step

 

"So young.

And I was there just yesterday."

And if that's true, and they are right

Then where will I be

Tomorrow?

 

"Untitled" IS COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL AND MAY NOT BE DOWNLOADED, TRANSMITTED, PRINTED OR PERFORMED WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR


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