Harlequin and a Lady by Konstantin Somov, 1921

Late Middle Age

Deep in the thickets of never were
my doubts and dreams fight
a fierce battle over the splinters
of ambition while overhead
soaring hopes somersault,
doing lazy loop-di-loops,
catching the thermals
of passion’s fierce heat quickly spent.

“Where,” cries the harlequin of discontent,
“where would you be now
but for the locks and chains of
decisions made in haste?”

“Who cares?” answers Lady Faith,
“The smith who forged the chains and locks
from the same fires of choice
created the keys of freedom.
The present is not bound nor
the future determined by
the verdicts of the past.”

“I care,” yells the buffoon,
stepping on the shards
of lucrative partnership.
Kicking aside the judicial robes
of political aspiration and
the rochet and chimere
of a failed election.
“I care very deeply about
the might-have-beens.”

“How silly,” she softly sighs,
gently folding the cope and miter
of another episcopate
that never was, laying it beside
the mortar board of
unachieved academic tenure.
“What a waste of emotional
time and investment!”

a grandchild’s laughter
explodes and cascades
with retirement fireworks
over Galway Bay.
The clown and the Lady
both look up
and smile.

by C. Eric Funston, 15 August 2014