Much After ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ Act II, Scene 3

by Copland Smith

I heard a shout from my master’s orchard.
Boy! a man called. He did not know my name.
Not my master ? a guest called Benedick.
I ran to him. I said, Signior? I watched
and waited. In the window of my chamber
lies, he said, a book. Go fetch it quick
to me here in the orchard.
I am already here, sir. I said,
meaning I would be that fast. Instead
he showed his wit and said, I know
that, but I would rather have you there
and here again. And so I left, face full of blood,
and galloped to his chamber. At his window
was a glass, half full of honey beer,
a comb for his curls, a discarded hood,
and yes, the book – a golden glow
from its spine, and the smell
of its covers! – as if the calf were just killed.
I opened it. It was not my business
to open it. I opened it like the draw
of the curtains on my other master’s play
and saw the dark swirl, the characters
playing their parts, dancing on the floor
of the page, spouting words that May,
to those whose business
is reading, be heard through the book’s silence.
To those who do not have such talents,
this is a great magic. And so I closed
the book and ran back towards the orchard:
down the oaken stair; into the darkening garden;
through the arch of columbine and rose,
until I stood, alone, in that same orchard.
By Benedick and by William, I have been forgotten
and all that I will ever have said is
Signior? and Sir, I am here already.