By Christopher Bernard
A card held high above the crowd, stiff with prediction from the deck. The monumental avatar of danger, wreck, catastrophe, disaster, liberation: the tower rived by lighting, crowned with fire. A Roma girl holds it high and free: it tells of fortune: catastrophe promises possibility. Annihilated or redeemed? Destroyed? Or saved? Shout and blare rock the roads. The mob is there, motley, young, and angry crammed between the city and the sea. The crowd surges like the tide. March treads, chants shout, in a bizarrely cheerful stampede in chaotic polyphony. The beautiful young, the desperate young entombed in beauty, take the bow cutting the sea of their elders’ calm, the doldrums of death on the dead reefs; they shout at the old half in their graves as if such shouts might us all save. They march. They march. They shake their signs, their smiles are bitter, their eyes are kind. Their parents slip, contrite, ashamed, a mass at the back; good followers all, as they always were—now in parade behind their young, behind them all (a crowd that always followed the crowd), sleepwalking toward a murderous sea that might be their posterity. And yet they march. They march. They march under the tower toward the future’s sea. Together they go, in the maze of the city, in hope and despair, in courage and woe. “Where do you come from? Where do you go?” the girl seems to ask in courage and woe. “We march under the tower of fire and woe. We march to the future inscribed in the Tarot!” And they march. And they march. And that Roma girl casts her spell upon us all. “We march toward the future. What will we find?”— Its smile is bitter, its eyes are kind.
—September 20, 2019
_____ Christopher Bernard’s latest collection of poems, The Socialist’s Garden of Verses, will be published in 2020.