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       A Verse Narrative by Michael E. Mautner


The Path

    Lana cried.  Clark left home by the north road.
    The gravel under his boots, the clear spring sky,
    its clouds and its birds, sang his praises, goaded
    by the Muses into oozing an elegy
    to the Farmboy and his "Smallville Years."
    Lana heard, in her heart, and saw that sky
    turn red-white-and-blue though her tears,
    framing his profile, seemingly cupping
    his knapsack and keeping its and his colors
    from bleeding off the page of her view.

    She knows his purpose, he her love;
    but, does either know what is True?
    The Muses do.  Listen to them sing:

        The youth is one to talk,
        to seek the truth
        along life's long and lonely walk.
        He longs to see his spirit,
        but that crafty wraith
        dons a new mask
        at his every pass;
        he can catch no glimpse
        of that which guides his eye,
        so his soul seems set
        in a different cast
        whenever he walks by it
        and he knows not truth,
        nor, even, himself, this youth.

        But, he grows older,
        accepts a slower pace,
        and it comes into focus --
        the jutting jaw and deep-set eyes,
        the features of his face.
        He will still his tongue
        (philosophy is for the young)
        and let the deed be judge.
        He does not begrudge
        the former quests
        that seem now like idle saunter,
        for he feels his unseen spirit,
        the core that's never altered,
        being driven from afar.
        Faith is what faith does --
        it wills what it must,
        and no reflection can contain it,
        nor any human action bring it.
        His duty is but to trust
        in a source beyond the stars
        and march on proudly unto death,
        for truth lies somewhere off the path
        and none can walk to meet it.
        He greets this knowledge
        with a solemn smile.
        His gentle journey down the road
        has all the while held
        to a logic of its own,
        the one and only map
        resting in a hand unseen,
        an image that is never known.

        The pedestrian's sooth --
        that no-one is ever alone --
        stands at last revealed,
        not as a gift one may be granted,
        nor a lesson you can learn,
        but as an impression set in youth
        by a whole but distant Truth.

    Once Clark yearned.
    Now he just keeps moving.
    Solitude, that sickly notion,
    is bred by the absence of motion;
    it is the walk that sees him
    growing ever older
    that keeps him
    from getting any colder.
    Truth is duty, and duty truth,
    and the battle for both never ends.
    He knows these facts;
    they drive him forward.

    He does not look back.


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