Saturday, May 6, 2017

Jack Scott writes

The Marketplace

Some say that orphans do not cry
because no one will heed them.

The wind is high tonight,
storms its way erratically,
down mountainsides,
sweeps through valleys
like a pack of hungry wolves
raping into every crevice,
rooting into every nook
every way at once
as if searching
for what should be everywhere,
but cannot be found anywhere.

Little match person
fends against the bully, cold,
up to her knees in snow
must draw her wits
like blanket around herself
imagining at least what warmth
what might be gained from that.

In the wind, imagined voices
can be heard, insistent, but
not so clearly understood;
she’d rather that it go away;
it could have nothing good to say.
If it’s come for her it is too soon
for she has matches, only that
her future’s thus invested -
bitter economics, true.

Is she lonely? Does it matter?
Her mind is not on that;
loneliness is a luxury she can’t afford.
The child is near the end of road
she didn’t know she took.

A match gives little heat
in proportion to its meager light,
not enough to warm all fingers
of the other hand at once.

Like all good friends,
they must take turns
to keep it as even as they can.

With luck, she could survive
while she still has matches,
and the will to sell them,
but when she runs out
and can’t buy more
what then?

That will be tomorrow,
a day like this, but worse
because it will have to be
the last, her final day.

To complicate the matter
there are no customers
anywhere in sight.
They’re eating, drinking,
laughing - Christmas
in the city and the suburbs,
at home or in the cheery inns
in this cheerless night.
What makes it ho, ho, holy -

The protest of ousted squirrels
can’t be heard  above the banshees l
oosed into this frenzied night.
Dry leaves insist a dreadful chatter.
The wind: banging forests around,
caroming down fallowed  fields,
shepherding home stray dinosaurs,
refusing rest to travelers 
until it has its own,
blasting, blustering wind
blowing away whatever’s
unattached to larger things
then back again,
flapping, snapping all the rest.

Of course it has the force,
the blind, mindless power
to snuff  her puny matches out
almost before they’re struck.

A waste to try to strike
a single match this way;
fragile, they break easily.
A match is best struck
against another match
or two, or three if ne
or two, or three if necessary,
if there’s nothing dry at hand..

In this dire need the briefest light
within the cold enormity
is the only warmth there is
if only to the freezing mind.
The dilemma that she is meta
phor is that she can’t strike
and sell them
for if she opts for heat,
she forfeits food to eat.

Once lit, the little light
is not enough to read by;
there's nothing here to read,
and if there were
she’d better burn it.

There are no cardboard boxes
to be found.
She knows, she’s looked.
All the stores are closed
and fuel of any sort
is buried by the snow.

She boldly, foolishly -
how else could she do it? -
marries courage to irrationality,
holds a tiny bonfire,
potential in her hand.

She mounts the icy diving board
above the frozen water,
mirror holding all the stars.

She strikes
before the impulse shrinks
from admission of her inventory,
acting upon a wiser reasoning
counseling her to have it all,
as much as she can get,
reality for an instant,
over illusion for another day,
and night if she’s unlucky.

She knows the worst of it is over;
she’s paid her dues
to join the largest club.
She’s been told it’s much like sleep,
no more, no less.
Not likely, but first a farewell gift,
the last of matches.

 Image result for little match girl painting
 Little Match Girl -- Khanda Lewis

1 comment:

  1. Hans Christian Andersen published "Den Lille Pige med Svovlstikkerne" (The little girl with the matchsticks) in December 1845, appearing in the 1846 edition of "Dansk Folkekalender." It has become one of his most enduring tales, the subject of an opera "Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern" by German avant-garde composer Helmut Lachenmann (with a libretto by Gudrun Ensslin, one of the founders in 1970 of the terrorist group the Rote Armee Fraktion -- also known as the Baader-Meinhof-Gruppe -- before she hanged herself with her fellow members in Stammheim prison in Stuttgart in 1977) as well as numerous comics, anime, manga, cartoon, film, computer game, and other adaptations; James Williamson directed "The Little Match Seller" (1902); the noted director, screenwriter, actor, and producer Jean Renoir made "La Petite Marchande d'Allumettes" (1928) -- Jean financed it by selling off paintings done by his father Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and it starred his father's last model, Catherine Hessling, whom Jean married; Charles Mintz' "Color Rhapsodies" (1937) was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Short Subject (Cartoons); Walt Disney's "The Little Match Girl" was intended to be part of "Fantasia" (1940) but was not released until 2006, when it was nominated for Best Animated Short; a 1987 HTV musical starred Twiggy and Roger Daltrey and included the song "Mistletoe and Wine,"which became a hit a year later for Cliff Richard; in 2005, Erasure made a music video of their song "Breathe," based on a modern adaptation of the story; David Lang composed "The Little Match Girl Passion" in 2007 for Paul Hillier and his Theater of Voices ensemble, which won a Pulitzer Prize. "Garbage Sushi" was a vicious parody version on Seth Green's "Robot Chicken" cartoon series.


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