Court Dwarfs: Velásquez


Court Dwarfs

Calabacillas, the idot of Coria;
Francisco Lezano, the child of Vallecas;
don Diego de Acedo, the cousin;
and don Sebastián de Morra
in his red velvet coat:

a pride of lion-hearts,
these medieval jesters,
blown up
in some practical joke to
a full life size
that competes with their majesties
for our dialogue
with this time and place.

 Their captive souls
run the gauntlet
of their canvas jails.

Their eyes
recall those of Segismundo,
imprisoned in his tower,
drugged, then dragged
from darkness
to the palace’s brightness.

On his return to prison:
“Man’s greatest sin
is having been born,”
he cries.

Heir to a kingdom,
surviving in darkness,
rags and chains
binding his royal flesh:

 “Life is a dream,”
he sighs,
“and every dream,
a lie.”

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