the night circus soul keepers

Dark Theatre: The Art of Unsettling


Every night as the circus opens, we recommend admitting a lie 
or a deception, sotto voce, a rogue’s prayer 
to the soul. 
Trust us, your secrets differentiate you 
from no one, but the soul awakens 
a little when she hears them. 
We have her interests at heart.

Try to practice unsettling 
what remains settled in you—
those ideas, for example, 
inherited and those stories, unedited. 
And if only you could raise
 your hypocrisy to the level of art, 
like forgery, there might be 
real hope for you.

Some people expect
 to be rewarded for stumbling
 and rising from the floor
 but we give
 no credit for living. We favor vitality
 over goodness, even over effort; a great belly full of dreams that laugh
s uproariously at the endless repetitions and inferiorities.

In your case we do not worry 
there may not be enough 
quarrel in you, enough perversity or enough courage 
to acknowledge your worst inclinations. 
We know you know that the soul converts them
 into tenderness. Nothing pleases her more.

So why not admit
 the theatre of dark and hidden life 
has always made you dream. The more you expose yourself 
the more you become unrecognizable.
 The more you rupture, the more you rapture. Remember, we are listening.
 What you decide to keep from the world, 
tell us. We understand
 everything. We pass it on and the world is able to breathe because you dare.

original text and adaptation by sb: from a poem by stephen dunn