Porgy Loves Bess

Porgy loves Bess. 

I mean, he really digs her despite her feet of clay. 

Feet she is washing at the water pump.  One that runs out with the receding tide of Bess’ good intentions of turning her life around, finally becoming an honest woman. 

Not five minutes into last night’s Broadway production at the Richard Rogers Theatre, Bess had given up on Bess. 

Powerless and hurt she is defeated again and back on drugs.

Yet sweet Porgy, reserves judgment.  He will not ‘mouth down on Bess,’ nor will he let others get their digs in.  Not even as Bess travels far afield on a path of self-annihiation, her dope loving ways, her tendencies to be swayed by character-free hanger-oners.  She who is tossed out by the whole town, Porgy calls still his own.  His one true Bess.

“A cripple can’t keep a woman,” the folk refrain to the injured Porgy, “Half a man’s a no good man.  Quit her, forget about trying, about her kind of woman.” 

Porgy, is all of us.  He sees Bess’ essence, sees through her damage.  And, we see through his.  ‘We alls gots damage,’ he intones. 

Strong enough for two, Porgy’s vision of Bess and himself is sure. 

Limping badly, without a map, he takes off to find his runaway lost dreamer, Bess, in the vast north.  Off to New York City with a dope fiend.  Porgy is undeterred, his only belongings, the clutch of a bandana sack in his hand, his heart as compass, on imperfect legs.  Life is hard. Giving up, not an option.

The curtain closes with this possibility.

What, however, if Part 2 were to open? 

See Bess now?  On a bare set.  NYC in July at dusk.  Shimmer on the building magnifies heat. 

Bess, in a faded slip, stands, hands empty, strung out near a clothesline between buildings, hung with a shred of underthings, dungarees, a stained calico dress. Hardly a stir on the rusted fire escape stage left. 

The lack of privacy, she hates.  She feels eyes everywhere.  The grubbed sweat on her body, her brow, the fresh start of forever doomed already, it will never wipe clean the dream she longs for, the Porgy she left.

Behind her, the dandy letch she came with rubs his palms together, waiting to prey her back into a corner.  His coaxing, “Bess, I know your type.”

Back to drugs, denial, a soul’s ruin.

Enter the limping Porgy.  New in town, he lumbers onto the city street.  Much castabout, yet a glow of glory joys about Porgy.  Directed to a rooming house across the way on the same street as Bess and her junkie partner, to a five story walk up, Porgy struggles up the stairs. 

Opening his sluggish window, he leans into the fire escape and surveys the new city land.

Across the way, a lock of eyes.  A look to cherrish.

Porgy’s spent face spies Bess’.  Then in a flash, a proof of love that needs few words, their eyes meet.  Bess, sees Porgy, he her, both, as if for the first time.  She sings her miracle valentine, “Porgy, I (really) is your woman now.”

(c) M. K. Smyth 2012

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