Marlene sleeps for a moment, and dreams once again of being Queen of the Stars. But only for a moment, for as she wakes, her dream has vanished as dreams often do.
In this cellar now warm, she slumps in a soft cushioned chair, weary in almost confused resignation her vision awakens in haven secure. “Great Expectations” lays soft in her lap, the night now forgotten lies pleasant once more. Franz leans toward her, touching her hand, his voice is lyric, a cat’s soft purr.
“Do you remember the days long ago when you danced in the bar as a girl in the show and the music was fine and the talk was of art’s evolution? The theatre then and the glorious plays and the language thus spoken, ah, those were the days.”
He speaks of the fall of Constantinople, the tigers of Rome and the emperors’ crown, the sadness of Shakespeare softens his lips as a hunchback king falls to seer’s lament, Hannibal’s army crosses the mountains as sweet sonatas from Scarlatti’s hands suffer in silence of shifting sands. Death reigns in masque at a royal party as queen’s head looks up from its basket finale, a child begs for soup as yellow stars glow, and sunflowers sway and lizards hold court as goblins and child Christs darken the page.
There is no redemption in forgotten longing, there is no forgiveness in suffered retreat, what is lost ne’er returns to the cat’s yearning garden, and lost knowledge dies on the empty stage.
Yet Marlene hears whispers, her ears perk a bit, her gold-flaxen tresses curl soft ’round her face, awake as she ever has been in this place, demands with her eyebrows for soft explanation, yet somehow she bows to acceptance in grace.
“Come, let me show you.”
The wind blows eerie ambivalent corridors, bathing tongues in reverence lost, undressed madness of sutured encumbrance, belayed shambles in wingless lust, Marlene stares in wonder at life’s bitter cost as yellow-stars hover in saddened chagrin.
And in this cried room, in forsaken hovel, sky-tatters hasten yellow-star fear, beseeching pathos like clouds without summer, mercy has never gained entrance here.
As her mother and sister’s sad memory swells, Marlene takes hands and is soothed by the touch of these few here below still beholden to fate of the one who has hidden them here. And the one with the gold-flaxen hair.
As stars cross one’s path in this gathering gloom or the cat patrols soft in a crumbling garden or madness reigns black on the streets of this city, then someone must rise, if even in vain, to fight for redemption of forgotten longing.
And though she once dreamed she was Queen of the Clouds, she has buried such childish abandons. In this ruined city, if nothing is now, save redemption betrayed in destruction pursued, she has gathered queen’s sight from this basket finale in the clouds and the moon and stars here to rule.
Bleak morn’ awakens this ruined city, as the cat softly prowls his crumbling garden.