Academic journal article The Hudson Review

We Walk Invisible

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

We Walk Invisible

Article excerpt

We have the receipt of fern-seed, we walk invisible.

(1 Henry IV. Act II, Scene i)


Among the sweepings of another winter, I find

on the screened-porch a lump of grayish fur

and, wedged in a corner,

a single scalloped wing.

How many days did this bat live

to hurl its flesh against the wire grid?

How many times knocked back

to the floorboards-

each flight a greater damage,

sonar out of true and nothing else to try until

the final spiraling climb

on the one remaining wing?

The last task's mine: to sweep these soft remains

down the cabin steps and into the lattice

of ferns at the forest's edge.


Act ii: One knave persuades another

to ambitious thievery, claiming fern-seeds'

miniscule spores

bestow invisibility.

By sympathetic magic-the science of the day-

plants transfer their properties to men:

if fern seed is invisible,

so, too . . .

Thus, our thieves, already counting stolen gold,

can scoff at risk, as we in the audience-

who've scoffed at far more deadly schemes

and lived-

scoff these days at everything. We've gazed

into the sun and now must face our denouement-

a world of mastery

and blur. …

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