Haibun Today
koikoi

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 5, Number 4, December 2011



Gary LeBel
Cumming, Georgia, USA

 

Late Last Thursday:
A tanka prose playlet for two speakers with full and half choruses

FULL CHORUS
[holding bare branches above themselves, sound of thunder]

Such deep lakes we are—
meet me at the bottom, friend,
for the demons that wait there
are not to be feared
and look just like us

[the lamp on a small side table flickers on and off; HE and SHE look at it]

HE

. . . but why? How could you? Why did you do it?

SHE

I don't know . . . exactly.

HE

What do you mean you 'don't know . . . exactly?'

SHE

How can you be sure about a thing like that? It's all so confused, muddy. How else can I put it, there's no other way to say it, damn it, it just happened.

HE

Not if you didn't want it to . . . . Wasn't I enough?

SHE

There you go. If I answer, either way I'm screwed. You always find a way to make it about you, don't you?

HE

Screwed alright. Well it is, at least, partially about me don't you think? How did it happen? How could you have let it happen? I'd like to know. I really would.

SHE

It just happened, like I said. Like wind blows. Like apples fall. Like people get run over crossing a street. I don't know; it just happens.
[thunder, the lamp quits; darkness]

HALF CHORUS

Poor Holofernes—
again you will have missed
the sudden flash of the blade
that severs you from the dream
your flawed Judith takes


[one chorister lights a candle at the word 'flash' but it's promptly blown out by another]

HE

[in the dark]
If you're not out there looking for it, it doesn't. It hasn't happened to me. I've got a little more respect for you than that.
[power is restored; the lamp flickers on, they both look at it]

SHE

Yeah. But I wouldn't blame you if it did . . . happen to you . . . if you met someone I mean . . . and let it happen.

HE

What's the matter with you? How can you say such a thing? It ruins everything. What have all these eleven years been about? A sham? A waste? Don't you see? It's just weird. Talking like this. Guiltless. Immoral. Like sybarites . . . . How did we get here? And how did you meet him anyway—online, through one of your slutty girlfriends? While you were out shopping one day and thought you'd pick up a lover along with asparagus and a gallon of skim milk?

SHE

It wasn't . . . a 'him. '

HE

What?
[blackout; sound of a door closing, a deep inhalation, then the rain]

HALF CHORUS
[thru the darkness, from stage left, speaking as in a round]

Duped by the grace
with which she peeled her orange at breakfast
how could you have known
what those same lovely hands
by evening would be skinning?

[from stage right, flashlights under chins are switched on simultaneously, the Chorus speaking in perfect unison]

FULL CHORUS

Like the body
that consumes itself to stay
warm and alive
desires merely harbored
burn their ships.

[one by one each flashlight is extinguished until the stage is completely dark]

end

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