Portrait of the Lady-Faust

Hers is an autumnal beauty,
A tired sky, her reposing eyes.
All loss is forgotten here;
Only the lingering of leaves in a quiet forest,
Thoughts the substance of shadows
But of the restful sort, wisdom neither ecstatic nor menacing.

What melancholy, what bliss, she exudes,
An echo of the "Moonlight Sonata"
Which she coaxes with accustomed hands from the reclining grand.
Her eyes attest that no question remains;
All has been answered long ago.
It's an old game for old dames; and she plays it with a poise
Unmatched in nobility.

And I, from a respectful distance, have my regard of her,
Her slim figure, clad in her dark evening gown,
Her fingers, with their artfully skeletal definition,
As they strike the keys with automatic grace,
Her face, a painting touched yet unmarred by the tint and texture of age,
Her eyes whose color is obscured by the dim ambiance,
Yet whose soul and substance speak unhindered,
Her smooth hair, groomed with a kind of opulent austerity,
A crown well-suited for such a languid, taciturn beauty,
And I know that it is her I love,
Though in the twilight of her accumulated knowing,
I am yet a blurred image,
A fleck of shadow in an advancing night.

Is this the fate of the immortal?
A kind of indifferent acceptance,
An estrangement from the frays of passioned youth?
Another evening at the opera
Where one may watch in fading amusement,
The frenzies and follies of a world which forgets,
Forgets all in its seasonal rage of birth and death,
And bursts forth in new tirades of yearning and strife,
Then falls spent into decay to be reabsorbed by new blossoms?
Dear lady, is this the aspect of our being?

I see and yet cannot read the answers.
The silent sphinx arpeggiates another riddle,
A hidden chord of wisdom delivered in this dark place.
I listen and record;
I too am fond of riddles,
And would know their answers.
If such exist, they are in her,
In the eloquence of her speech
And in the fine detachment of her features.

And yet—could I be deluded?—
She is more to me that this,
Though for all these years I've admired her only from a great distance.
She is a reflection of my spirit,
Alone, withdrawn from the morbid intricacies of modernity,
Yet persisting,
A marble icon towering over the broken beer-bottles
And cardboard shavings of contemporary culture.
We make our own way, her and I,
Our own middle ground between blindness and resignation,
And I pray that one day our ways might meet,
For I sense there is an exchange,
A wondrous gain for us both
Which lies in the synergy of our spirits.

George Chadderdon © 1994