Here on the Balcony

    [From Berlin, in spite of Cynthia Ozick]    

He stands on the balcony
in a far away place,
raises his arm before him
in a rigid salute
to an absent crowd.
We are historical, he thinks,
but we don't live in history.
Yes, there are records of this,
but we are not in the records.
Ah such complexity!
He thinks this is the defining act,
the actualization of a central image:
that of a man standing
on the edge of an abyss
pissing into a hard wind.
Not a mistake, not an idle gesture,
but the assertion of presence.
There is unceasing arbitration
at work here, he senses that,
for he is always going out,
always being more
than his circumstance,
more than the sum.
He knows it is
absolutely correct
to be here.
In fact, it is a necessary act.
It seems that when others
return to the scene of the crime
they are there essentially
to lament their losses,
then the criminal is the victor.
But what is the alternative?
To cower in one's righteous place,
in one's corner of self-pity?
A freeing instance here
shouts:  I am alive!
By character and intuition,
by inclination too,
he always goes towards,
not from and not away,
always goes towards it.
Here in this he has no choice.
He knows that as in the old fable,
the hero must confront a series
of fearsome obstacles,
the last and greatest of which
is coming home. 

 © Raymond Federman

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