The Book of the Dead Man (Movie Theater)

Marvin Bell

Live as if you were already dead.
Zen admonition
1. About the Dead Man and the Movie Theater
The dead man has been reading subtitles in the dark.
They leave out some anatomy, they cut the cussing.
He looks up and down to see the figures on the screen, who are larger than their words.
He tries to follow the players as they persist in their visions.
One of them wants to go straight, another seeks revenge.
The dead man has seen too much, now he hopes the lovers don't fight.
Likewise, he prefers those who are still coming of age to get there.
The dead man thinks their speech contains the seeds of its destruction.
The cold subtitles mute their passions.
The scene morphs, the light shifts, the seats creak, all of it safely.

2. More About the Dead Man and the Movie Theater
The dead man returns to the dark magic of the movie theater.
A sensitivity to light blankets the room as the house lamps dim.
The red exit signs slide further into the dead man's peripheral vision.
From high up, the projector sends a tide of light overhead, a river of slivers that reassemble at the silver screen. Now the dead man is emptied of foreknowledge.
The film begins, there may be foreshadowing, flashback, time shifts.
The theater swells with points of view.
Let him last through the credits at the end, blinking as he wakes.
To the dead man, every movie is a home movie he is privy to.
He is the eye behind the camera, he is a mystery to the characters.
They are not themselves, they pretend he cannot see them.