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       A Verse Narrative by Michael E. Mautner


    To sit on his hands when he could have provided
    speedier transit was surely gross negligence;
    but, the bumpy ride home in Marvel's cart tried
    Eben's health less than Clark's patience.
    Pa survived it, hurt, but intact,
    and when he wakes he'll surely thank
    Clark for not flying him back.

    --    Hide your powers son.  (So Eben had said
          when Joe died).  Because you can't bank
          on folks having any sense.  Men fear the new,
          and you'll mystify them, so they'll fear you.
          Fight on the right side, put your might to
          good: that'll justify you in their eyes.
          Takes time, 'course, and maturity.
          I hope I'm understood?

    He was: Pa's wish has prevailed since that day.
    Even at the Fair.  There, Clark let caution sway him,
    let Ralph guide the Eben-burdened John Ross
    to the Prof., let them try to mend Pa's ribs
    while he sat by in shock.  They revived him,
    momentarily.  "Would've been... hundred
    dollars... but that cold metal... wouldn't budge,"
    said Pa of the anvil.
    Ross fed him gin from a flask --
    enough to kill the pain -- and Eben asked
    for Sarah, slumped again, and was out cold
    by when they got him to her.  She helped
    her guests settle, then in her hand held his
    until, by Eben's bedside, she fell asleep.
    Clark slept in his room (first time in months)
    and kept on his coveralls, too drained
    even to fear the dream's recurrence.
    So, of course, it has recurred,
    and I can now tell
    of the anxieties that fill
    a godling's mind in unguarded moments.

                    THE DREAM
            (As the dreamer dreams it)
          To the hills on the edge of town
          we go, and your locks you let down
          as I touch your tender neck
          with my eyes and nose and lips
          and brow and, as one, we fall
          onto the soft spring grass.
          I drink deeply of the air
          and of the scent of you,
          your breath and flesh and hair,
          as your hands lithely scurry
          across my back and you stare
          over my shoulder and tell me,
          each whispered puff of air
          tickling my ear, how pretty
          is the vista of the village
          below.  And so we roll
          until I can glimpse the view,
          but keep going, turning
          and tumbling over and over --
          my only vista is you.

          But... who are you?  What color
          is this hair?  Your face, obscured
          by the dream-fog, was Lana's
          when last I dreamt.  Whose tonight?

       (Dream-shift.  Hero, don't fight
        this vision new, of Dudley
        Batson calling your Fortune
        from out a crystal ball.
        Heed him, for your destiny
        he might have seen, had not rueful
        circumstances intervened.
        Caveat: This is but a dream.
        Give it no more than it is due
        that the dream-Prof. can pontificate
        just so):

    --    By twice the twelfth
          English letter
          is thy fate defined.
          Bound you'll be,
          but then unfettered,
          by this one repeated sound
          akin the name of kin of Thine
          on that long deceased sphere
          whose legacy you've borne
          but shan't forever bear alone.
          Love, pure in form, looms, so prepare   
          for the coming of The One,
          she who will need no traps or snares
          and whose burdens you will share,
          she who will woo with Liberty's gun.

       (Intermission done, the curtain falls,
        the intruder sidles to the wings.
        Clark will someday recall his cryptic song,
        but now ignores it.  More familiar things
        beckon: Idyllic images are re-run
        in his head until once again
        they turn loathsome as...
                    THE DREAM is re-begun):

          Our nearness melts them
          from brown into blue,
          as your eyes become my sky
          and your mouth my sun.
          Our hearts run together,
          our limbs intertwine
          and I am yours, and you are mine
          as the heat of the day
          burns away time
          until it stands as still
          as we two lie, a spent one,
          clinging to the hill
          until the day is done.

          We then get up to go
          and you request a hug.
          I comply and am by my
          own exuberance undone.

          For a few seconds I lower my guard;
          for mere seconds!  Time enough
          for enamel shards to burst and rain,
          for your blood to redly stain
          the yellow summer flowers,
          for the subcutaneous
          essence of your loveliness
          to churn to a buttery puss,
          mix with white bone-dust
          and paste your dress to the grass.
          Onto the puddle that was you
          a ladybug flutters.  I do
          nothing.  My touch is death; there was
          not time enough for one breath,
          not time enough for you to...
          for you to...

    No dreee...
    No dre...
    Open eyes... wakefulness...
    and he isn't dreaming,
    he really hears her (Who?) screaming.


    Clark levitates.  Behind his head
    to his right he reaches with both arms,
    grabs the bedpost and rotates
    about its axis, careening
    himself out the window
    as Sarah's screams parch her throat
    and raise a house-wide alarm.
    At their source, the breakfast nook,
    it seems Eben tried to cook
    his own porridge.  Sarah slapped it
    off his face -- she wanted him
    to talk to her just once more --
    but his jaw moved not a jot,
    and she is still dragging
    his sagging form from the spot
    where it struck the covered porch floor
    when Clark lands on a plank thereof
    and, with his heel, knocks the dropped ladle
    out the open wire door.  Cradling
    Eben, Clark conveys him to a couch.
    Ralph and Professor Marvel rush
    downstairs still buttoning their shirts,
    the latter a black bag in tow.
    The stethoscope won't decode
    the patient's last gurglings,
    but the junior Kent knows
    that Pa is urging him
    to keep the farm and care for Ma.
    He gasps because words will not come,
    and such dry rasps are enough....
    He is gone.

    Outside, in the weedy rough,
    still winds come alive, rustle up dead brush
    and sweep it to homestead walls,
    forming piles wherein would thrive
    the lichen, were there any moisture.
    But, the eye of Heaven is dry,
    the mold can find no pasture.
    It should look inside.  A young man strives
    there now after self-definition
    (what will be his life's mission?),
    and to contain a teary flood.

    Upon Ma's bent shoulder
    Clark rests a hand.
    They both have lost a kind of love
    richer even than bonds of blood.

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