• A Certain Roman

    (written in 2009 by Jordan Inman)


    This will I carry to Rome.

    My breathing halted, feet splayed, right subjected to the left, but both of them pointed in an air of vaunt toward the opposing fronts of two imaginary patricians. I am in my rhythm.

    This will I carry to Rome.

    ‘This’ suddenly becoming, by way of punctuation and order in the sentence, a reminder that the pronoun plays both the role of subject and object.  But to define this lucidly, it refers to my spoil of choice: a bronze Volscian stake announcing the anchorage of the Roman Republic and a relic now sired to some histrionic stasis. It thrills me to no end that there is so much occasion for these moments of individual impression in Shakespeare!

    This will I carry to Rome.

    Not only does the phrase segregated command one’s attention but at the same time plucks a previously unseen panache; ‘this will’ implies the visceral imposition of the Empire and the fiery productivity of Mulciber in a single prosaic dyad. With further rehearsal, it should become the discharge of my delivery – sudden and sonorous.

    This will I carry to Rome.

    ‘I’, for this brief but noble moment, am privileged to partially chapter a lone steward in his affirmation for civilization. ‘Carry’ – I must remember to add some measure of weight to my prop here, for this is no lax burden that I derive. Pax Romana wasn’t marshaled in a day, as they say, and neither was the genius of Olivier for that matter.

    And if I should have any upcoming doubts as to whether I should continue on gorging my character’s one and only chance at speaking in the play with any additional interpretation and inspired whim, I will simply mind myself of the alarum, shortly spoken before my own line, from Caius Marcius Coriolanus, “He that retires, I’ll take him for a Volsce, And he shall feel mine edge.”

    Now let’s see, I’ve gone over the prodding of the lower lip, the brusqueness of the shoulders, the impending (but never fulfilled) swivel at the waist…Gaze is certainly not something to leave overlooked; my line of vision should never lose its footing, from stake-in-hand to that understood audience just beyond the final row and into the empyrean…

    This will I carry to Rome.

    *                      *                      *

    Act I, Scene V. I rank myself at the head of our line walking on from stage left, two other Romans in train behind me and then, before the curtains part ways again, we drift into our triumvirate, each of us positioning for parley. All voluntary motion is swept into a corner at the center of my being, all vital functions relegated to standby. I am in tune.

    This I will carry to Rome.

    Damn it.