'The Winter's Tale' in Kansas City

For Sidonie Garrett and the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival

A fairy-tale unfolds
Where trees hold a cathedral
And a rose window makes the cicadas sing.

A thousand stares stitch into sequins,
Tears suspended in the ladies’ gowns.
‘The Emperor of Russia was my father’
Reaches across the city;
While Hermione waits for judgement,
Fork lightning cracks the rumbling sky,
And a dry storm scatters into pearls.

Sicilia’s stone-steel heart
Turns to green and pink,
Red, gold and blue;
Thrones and courtiers,
Shepherds and kings,
Made and self-made men,
Wave hope over the stage.

The frisking Clown
Catching our smiles,
Like dancing stars,
Throws them to the juggling,
Ballad-eating Autolycus,
Who washes out prose
With swallowed fire.

Leontes’s grief
Stretches into spring,
Pushing up the dark earth,
Awakening our faith.

In the morning I watch
Sparrows scavenge the skip,
While stone spills down a broken step,
Framed by corrugated grey
And the black, polished glass
Of the Crown Plaza.

Our pastoral is overtaken -
Somewhere on the freeway –
A gap of time filled up
By the roar of road.

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Follow our journey across North America in search of Shakespeare