Eternal Dancer's Will

chined by love’s brine
finned by woe’s requin;

at last—it’s an eternal will written in crimson—
still raw with the feminine offspring in sequin’d

ballet costumes of Carmen and Gershwin. oh Olin,
won’t you tell me again who the dancers are

in the photographs lining the cellar door trapped like
the musk of a million hand-sewn costumes—won’t you tell me

again the stories while I sit on your lap for I am six—
and the youngest you chose and you don’t know

this but I stood outside in the doorway between your desk
and the dressing room, listening to you tell my mother

of all the big plans you had for me. I was six and there were
eight other girls in my class and we hurried to get in line

when we’d hear those brown loafers trudge along the carpet—
up the steps and we watched for your reflection in the mirrors

that canvassed the west wall—to see your collared shirt and
brown trousers—your thin, wispy hair and you would

sit us down, your breath an acrid tidal wave of cigarettes
and coffee.

we listened hard, trying not to show our disdain
for we respected you more than our own fathers.

oh when did I fall so hard, Olin. you always said if I fall to
get back up as fast as I can—ad-lib if I must—and jump

right back in when I recognize a step. but I don’t recognize
these steps and I need you and you’re not here to whisper

behind the curtain, “Shasay, Susanjane! Pas de bourree—and
smile! ” no, no you’re not here. but I know where you must be hiding

yes, yes you’re in the cellar and your legs are strong and young.
your heart beats with youth and your arms can lift

the beautiful girls in the photographs who come out at night
to wear the costumes that put Broadway to shame.

do you hear her beneath the floorboards—the rosin box
and the long polished finish of the barre. can you hear her

dancing with the Greats to the Russian Composers. yet
these memories are not real they are of another girl

who has blossomed and burned in the spotlight of a thousand
spectators who only stayed to see her time away in the chimera night.

like the musk on the costumes in the basement attic—she breathes,
where no living thing lives;

and sometimes she forgets and still smiles like she has an audience.

by s./j. goldner

Other poems of GOLDNER (205)

Comments (7)

A poem of extraordinary beauty. May you dance on well into 2007 and beyond. Love, Sandra
Yes, I believe this one shows the depth of your talent.
What courage and what beauty. We are all the richer what you have given us in this poem and the great diversity of your talent shines ever so bright, Highest respect, Robert
This one must survive. bravo.
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