The Space Between Stars

The Space Between Stars
A Play-Poem in Three Acts
by Jess June & Knight Quinn


Act I
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Scene: A Café. A Tree growing in the middle. A Woman at a table. A Serpent.

Serpent:

Stop!
Don’t eat that.
Please.

Woman:

But it looks so delicious. Why?

Serpent:

The table, it wobbles. It
is missing a leg.
Precarious. Besides,
the light is dimmer;
it is being absorbed.

Woman:

You can swallow light
While the ship is sinking-
You can tap out S.O.S. with
the missing breath of your fingertips.
Consequences make the actions clearer.
The table wobbles- I sit still.

Serpent:

But your hands make no sense!
You have the eyes of a cat, but your
fingers reach through all illusion:
knuckle deep (with such intent!)
Even your stillness is facsimile
as your feet crest.

Woman:

Hands are composed of riddles.
They do not follow through.
They linger. They reach
when told to quit. I am moving
with the passing of minutes.
Have you seen my waltz?
It would stop your heart. You’d
have to kick yourself to keep
breathing. To move back as I come
forward.

But illusions build villages.
I take vacations to towns with no names.
I fly and sing and return with no
difference. As far as you see,
I am checking my watch. Trying
to swap napkins under broken feet.

Act II
Anslem Keifer 1945 Midgard 1982-1985 Mixed Media on Canvas 110x149in

Scene: A hanging-tree growing by a burial mound. A woman, naked, sprawled beneath. A serpent coiled around the rope.

Serpent:

Since that insipid forth day, the sun has set
watches. But the last village you set foot
in was built before that. Its name forgotten
when sunrise first sparked poetry. Don’t you
remember? Don’t you still hear the footsteps
on eternal dew-grass?

Woman:

The footsteps haunt my dreams.
Don’t you forget.
Don’t you remember?
When we leave, we tell ourselves
we’re moving forward.
But distance is a man-measured thing.
I reach my arm out, I still feel borders.

Serpent:

A border is the space between my
table and
yours;
between a wall and the paint;
between the hour and the minute hand;
between the ink and the skin.
There are no other borders,
not even between
an owl and its screech, or
between footsteps and dreams.
How dare you.

Woman:

Build a wall of sugar.
Watch it melt in moonlight.
Light a campfire only to
burn the feeling out
of your core.
My skin walks inches
that grow like wildflowers.
What seems so close in now an echo.
I scream with the owls, watch
my prey run. I told you to block the exits- you
insisted there was no way out.

Serpent:

Only because I saw no way
in.
You already blocked the entrances,
caved in passageways, breathed in
the chlorine gas as you scrubbed
the rock walls and sling-shot the
string lights. Moonlight is something
you have to emerge into.

Act III
La Vérité sortant du puits (1896), Jean-Léon Gérôme, Musée Anne de Beaujeu, Moulins (03)

Scene: A desert. A sun-bleached dead tree(serpent skins hang from the branches.) The voice of a serpent. A woman, holding something in her hand. It glows, bright light is seen between her fingers. She cannot take her eyes off of it.

Woman:

You carry it on coat tails.
Did you know that?
It follows you. Aching.
There is always a way in.
You know that too well.
You used the silver spoons
you found to carve
an underground.
There’s no stopping a determined force.
That’s what all my bets are placed on.

Voice of a Serpent:

Palms and knees
are bloody from crawling on
broken glass, the safety features
having failed. The head inspector died
long ago, a croupier in his place.
It’s not true: I lost the spoons
on the same bet. I dug with a
harp strung with catgut once used
to accuse anyone who wore coat-
tails.
Myself included.
I was weak. I confessed and they allowed
me to dig my own grave.
I forgot moonlight. Ate earthworms.

Woman:

I am going to eat this now.

Voice of a Serpent:

There is nothing stopping you.

Fin

Notes on the Artwork:
-“Alizarine” by István Sándorfi 1994 Oil on canvas 130 x 130 cm
-Anselm Kiefer (German, b. 1945) “Midgard”, 1982–85. Oil and mixed-media on canvas. 110 × 149 in. (279.4 × 378.46 cm)
-“La Vérité sortant du puits” (1896), Jean-Léon Gérôme – Musée Anne de Beaujeu, Moulins (03)

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