So Many Hiding…

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          1/ So many hiding, hidden all around, Betrayed by random movement or a sound,           Were shriekingly discovered one by one— I think that some of them went underground,

          2/ And they are hidden now beneath a stone No sound can penetrate or else they’ve flown           Off to another very distant kingdom Whose presence on no map is ever shown.

          3/ But some of them, I think, are out there still, Mourning the deficit of luck or skill           Which held them back, or led them even further Away from the blindfolded Jack or Jill

          4/ Who must continue searching for them yet, Though darkness falls and supper has been set           On the homely kitchen table by their mother Who casts her voice out to them like a net,

          5/ To summon them all back out of the weird Darkness into which they’ve disappeared,           And in which her repeated crying out Will be ignored if it is not unheard.

          6/ We are engaged in play, though, are we not? “To hide is wonderful,” said Winnicott,           And which of us is likely to deny it? For after you have found the perfect spot,

          7/ Securely hidden from the wildest guess, And learned the password letting you access           A hiding place no larger than yourself Wherein you lie silent and motionless

          8/ Within a shelter that keeps you held fast, Or under it—no matter—for at last           You are secure from all discovery, Small as you are and as the world is vast,

          9/ And owing to this discrepancy in size, As you have just begun to realize,           You may be hiding here for quite a while, Which, though it should not come as a surprise,

          10/ Surprises now, for you’ve begun to hear Those who are searching for you drawing near,           Closer and louder till you are quite certain That one of them is going to appear—

          11/ You know which one it is without a doubt— The older girl your friends tease you about,           She is the one who will discover you And take you by the hand and lead you out

          12/ And great acclaim will greet the pair of you, Along with some good-natured teasing, too,           About how long you’ve been away, and how Could you keep hidden what we always knew?

          13/ You’ve been rehearsing now for many weeks Your Prize Oration: What the Finder Seeks,           And are prepared at last to bring it forth, “As now, one who has long been silent, speaks—”

          14/ But either some blameless error has been made, Or else you have been fatally betrayed—           There are no other possibilities, For now the calling voices start to fade,

          15/ And the cries that sped across the echoing green Increasingly grow few and far between,           Fewer by far and far more widely spaced Till you’ve been left behind, unheard, unseen,

          16/ Abandoned to the darkness without sound, Within some sort of burrow in the ground.           “To hide is wonderful,” said Winnicott, “But a disaster when you aren’t found.”

          17/ It really cannot take all that much thought To find out someone willing to be caught,           Who wants to take a turn at being it, Or just has had enough of being sought—

          18/ The smallest error on the part of Hyde Will bring him down, while Seeke (the other side)           Need do no more than wait the fateful blunder That you are almost certain to provide.

          19/ Not to be found is a disaster when We know the others won’t be back again           And this is play—for games should never end With a player undiscovered in his den.

          20/ Have we established yet that this is play? For if it’s not, relief and not dismay           Should color your response to realizing That they have given up and gone away;

          21/ Relief that in this dark space like a tomb You are expected only to assume           A new perspective, new identity, In purposeful concealment now become

          22/ Invisible to any searcher’s eyes, So blandly unassuming your disguise           Or so outlandishly unlike yourself— An entity they’d never recognize.

          23/ Yet in the absence of those others, who Can you possibly transform yourself into,           Blindly, without guidance? For haven’t their Expectations always been what formed you?

          24/ You always showed them what they wished to see From earliest childhood. A mystery:           How a mask slowly learns to be a face As you became just what you seemed to be.

          25/ They were the mirror that you stood before And looked into, becoming more and more           Unlike yourself and like what you saw there. But always there was something else, a core

          26/ Of darkest reservation you repressed So cleverly the others never guessed           That anything at all was ever hidden. The keeper of the secret cannot rest:

          27/ Is ever forced to fabricate a role And often has to move his hidey-hole           From one uncertain burrow to another, Dreading discovery. Well said, old mole.

          28/ But something, in response to who-knows what, Began to form within you like a knot           Much harder than the pulp surrounding it: The shape of your resistance to their plot,

          29/ Whose motives you could partly understand, Whose methods never had to be explained,           And for the most part were agreeable; Whose outcome had been long ago ordained.

          30/ Said Winnicott, “How wonderful to hide For hours on end, where you won’t be espied           While others search the walkaround for you— Not to be found is terrible!” he cried.

          31/ But to be found completely is to be Found out—and so deprived of agency,           Always opaque, rather than transparent. No matter what you think, it seems to me

          32/ That part of you is out there still alone, Hiding or hidden underneath the stone,           And may or may not be uncovered when All of the searchers have been ages gone.

          33/ A bit of molar and a fingertip, Bathed in a water clock’s incessant drip           For fifty thousand years or so, at last Managed to give oblivion the slip,

          34/ Were let go of—or as I’d rather say, These two bit pieces somehow got away,           Came back from Lost and Gone to offer us The jigsaw puzzles of their DNA.

          35/ Emerging from their hiding place at last, They move into the present from the past,           Two markers nearly inarticulate, Almost but not entirely effaced:

          36/ Like the blackened scroll, once hidden, but now found That scholiasts painstakingly unwound,           Restoring it almost to what it was: It speaks to us in Greek without a sound.

          37/ So, by the ravelling of strand on strand, We’ve come, in our time, to understand           Just how we may insinuate from bits A father’s jawline and a daughter’s hand.

          38/ To what more will such evidence, at best Unarguably miniscule, attest?           A daughter lifted to her father’s shoulder? The fragments and their context both suggest

          39/ A way of living that sustained, until Nothing to eat was left for them to kill,           And they both perished, inescapably. You are here with us now. Be still, be still.

          40/ So to conclude the last of our themes, From time to time a later age redeems           Permanent losses with temporary gains— All findings are provisional, it seems.