(A rainy evening in a poor sector of London in 1890. Crossing a street, Sidney sees Jane and goes to greet her.)

Sidney:      Jane!

Jane:          Sidney? Good evening.

Sidney:      Rather a harsh evening, in fact.

Jane:          Yes, the rain is so chilly. I keep clutching my collar tight, but still my neck is cold and wet.

(They step under a shop awning.)
 
Sidney:      You should have an umbrella, Jane. Are you just now returning home from your work serving soup to the poor?

Jane:          Yes. There were so many today.

Sidney:      You must be so tired.

Jane:          Yes. But I am looking forward to tomorrow, nevertheless. We are taking some of the poor and starving to the zoo.

Sidney:      The zoo?

Jane:          Why are you surprised?

Sidney:      Well, for one thing, they will see the animals in a better condition than they are themselves.  They may wish to stay as inmates.

Jane:          Sidney, I think you are being frivolous about something I don’t think you should be being frivolous about.

Sidney:      You are right, Jane, of course. You have a serious soul. A seriousness of soul. And I admire it more than I can say.

(He lifts a hand as if to touch her cheek, but doesn’t do so.)

Sidney:      And yet I can’t help wondering–

Jane:          Wondering?

Sidney:      You are so pale, dear Jane, and you work such long hours. Surely it cannot always be wrong in this life to think of oneself–to seek joy for oneself?

Jane:          I never said it was wrong. I just don’t do it much. Anyway, I can see where you’re headed with this one and it isn’t going to work. I am in love with another. His name is Rex. A dog can be a girl’s best friend, you know, and I’d put a dog before a man every day of the week. Twice on Sundays.

Sidney:      Jane, Jane, you don’t mean that!  A dog is – is only a dog!  That kind of love is so limited, it can hardly be called love.  Love is something we are meant to do with our whole being!  And a woman like you–

Jane:          Good night, Sidney.

(Jane walks quickly away in the rain. Sidney watches her go, and then wanders along the street in the other direction. He enters a pub. Alfred the bartender greets him.)
 
Alfred:      Come in, Sidney, come in.  It’s a night not fit for dogs!

(Stage suddenly goes dark. Spotlight on a table in the corner. D. H. Lawrence sits there with a beer. He turns to address the audience.)

Lawrence:  Symbolism is worthless unless it springs from the very heart of experience, from the molten core.  Without that shocking heat, that lava-like bursting flow, symbolism is nothing but a cheat, a tawdry salesman’s rigmarole.  I detest it, with every filament of –

(Second spotlight on the pub entrance:  Jane appears, holding a leash.)

(In a third spotlight, Sidney stands up on the bar and begins to sing “Somewhere” from West Side Story. Jane smiles sadly. Lawrence pounds his table so hard his beer bottle falls to the floor and shatters.)

CURTAIN

 

 

Photo by kidtoro

Mark Halliday

MARK HALLIDAY's sixth book of poems Thresherphobe was published by the University of Chicago Press and is reviewed in the 2013 winter issue. He teaches at Ohio University. His poems have appeared on this site here and here.

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