I can’t look at everything hard enough

Emily (softly, more in wonder than in grief):

I can’t bear it. They’re so young and beautiful. Why did they ever have to get old? Mama, I’m here. I’m grown up. I love you all, everything. – I can’t look at everything hard enough.

….

Emily (in a loud voice to the Stage Manager):

I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t even have time to look at one another.

She breaks down sobbing.

I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back – up the hill – to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look.

Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover’s Corners … Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking … and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths … and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you.

She looks toward the stage manager and asks abruptly, through her tears:

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? – every, every minute?

Stage manager:

No.

– from Our Town, Thornton Wilder

Thank you to Martha for urging me to re-read this extraordinary play … I can’t wait to talk about it. And to Katrina, for your glorious essay whose timing cannot be a coincidence.


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6 Comments

  1. Posted July 8, 2010 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    Well, the stage manager says no, but then,

    Saints and poets, maybe.

    I can’t speak for your potential sainthood, but the poetry in your prose just gets better and better.

  2. Posted July 8, 2010 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    Thinking I agree with Launa. You definitely fall into the poet category. Keep seeing….

  3. Posted July 8, 2010 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Wow! My son’s drama club at high school put on “Our Town” in April. The memories this brought back. And the recent things I have read that this rings so true with. Thank you, Lindsey.

  4. Posted July 8, 2010 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Lindsey, you honor Emily and Thornton with your spirit—yes you are a poet who gets it (as Luana and Renae suggest), but also a traveler between worlds imploring us to look ever harder, and at the same time more softly and tenderly.

  5. Posted July 9, 2010 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    That scene makes me teary for so many reasons. For its beauty in and of itself. For my memories of being in a summer production of Our Town when I was 14. And for my memories of watching the episode of The Wonder Years where Kevin holds Winnie up with his spotlight when she begins to forget her lines.

    I hadn’t thought of those lines in years. And yet when I started reading they were instantly recognizable to me. Funny how some things become ingrained and are made permanent. Thanks for this.

  6. Posted July 11, 2010 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I have to re-read this.