Poem: THE SCREEN by Murdock Pemberton
by Murdock Pemberton
From midnight till the following noon
I stand in shadow,
Just a splotch of white,
Unnoted by the cleaning crew
Who've spent their hours of toil
That I might live again.
Yet they hold no reverence for my charms,
And if they pause amid their work
They do not glance at me;
All their admiration, all their awe,
Is for the gold and scarlet trappings of the home
That's built to house my wonders;
Or for the gorgeous murals all around,
Which really, after all,
Were put in place as most lame substitutes,
Striving to soothe the patron's ire
For those few moments when my face is dark.
Yes, men have built a palace sheltering me,
And as the endless ocean washes on its stretch of beach
The tides of people flow to me.
All things I am to everyone;
The newsboys, shopgirls,
And all starved souls
Who've clutched at life and missed,
See in my magic face,
The lowly rise to fame and palaces,
See virtue triumph every time
And rich and wicked justly flayed.
Old men are tearful
When I show them what they might have been.
And others, not so old,
Bask in the sunshine of my fairy tales.
The lovers see new ways to woo;
And wives see ways to use old brooms.
Some nights I see the jeweled opera crowd
Who seem aloof but inwardly are fond of me
Because I've caught the gracious beauty of their pets.
Then some there are who watch my changing face
To catch new history's shadow
As it falls from day to day.
And at the noiseless tramp of soldier feet,
In time to music of the warring tribes,
The shadow men across my face
Seem living with the hope or dread
Of those who watch them off to wars.
In sordid substance I am but a sheet,
A fabric of some fireproof stuff.
And yet, in every port where ships can ride,
In every nook where there is breath of life,
Intrepid men face death
To catch for me the fleeting phases of the world
Lest I lose some charming facet of my face.
And all the masters of all time
Have thrummed their harps
And bowed their violins
To fashion melodies that might be played
The while I tell my tales.
O you who hold the mirror up to nature,
Behold my cosmic scope:
I am the mirror of the whirling globe.