Friday, February 19, 2010

Under study

(Balcony scene from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet)

Music moves like a ghost
through my mouth,
sweeping the nave,
ruffling a breeze from
the nightingale wings
ribbed beneath their cage

And velvet folds
of encores’ gold
dust my powdered cheek,
as slippered toes
trace all shades of sin
from pas de deux

With quickening haste,
the urgency scrapes
from stage boards
bowed with sweat and lace,
up two knees,
weak with plié,
to land en pointe
between my legs

And I’m thrown,
up high,
on the fork of a tongue,
with a wrest of faith,
eyes star-crossed
by grands jetés
tossing their blue,
and red,
and indigo

Ay me!

She speaks.
To de Bergerac shadows
beneath a Russian skirt,
and yet I know whose fingers
suck at this bodice,
unlacing restraint,
smoking my blood
with their iambic
I know the hands,
born of a Bard,
O Romeo, Romeo

Anon, good nurse!
His love is deep,
Anon . . .

And pressed into
an arabesque penchée,
I lean for my love
with all that I am,
spread for a satisfaction
Will couldn’t pen,
wanting so far that toes
slip their grip,
tipping me tulle
over heels,
and on over a

So the nightingale
she drops  
but soft
through an air,
the cobwebs of notes
pretty pirouettes
of tethers unheeled,
past the inconstant moon,
with its cold, wary eye
under a hail
of applause
on this bone-
splintered night

Ay, me

So here I thud,
without any lark
or midwinter night's dream,
in a crumpled split
of pages pressed
upon cheek,
the line of drool
escaping my lips
too weak a poison to
kill the sweet sorrow
that I am not Juliet,
but Rosaline

Of the prosaic fate
to march my steps
up against Mrs. Hayes
and her multiple choice
English exam
to be taken first thing,
on the ground story
of E. Cleveland High,
west wing

You know the room,
second door on the left,
it has a grille over
the window
in lieu of


Karen said...

Sarah, I love the absolute FUN of reading this! I started to comment and stopped to read again!

First the juxtaposition of the ballet steps with the dancer's involvement in her own story is excellently rendered. Then there's the great fun of knowing the allusions and relating those to this romantic rendering...then to see you fall "tulle over heels" to land smack in the middle of that boring English class, drooling all over the test is simply delightful!

I have to say that you really "got me" with this one. I did not in any way anticipate the ending, which makes it all the more fun. I had a big laugh at the end, along with a small twinge of regret that the classroom has barred windows. (Maybe that's a good thing, as it would be tempting to fling yourself from them to escape the boredom of this class.)

Great fun. It took me to unexpected places.

Sarah Hina said...

Karen, I'm glad you had fun with this! I think it suffers from over-ambition, but I saw a ballet over the weekend, and so wanted to write with words what I saw on the stage. I think this is what it means to dream the impossible dream...

The ending came as a surprise to me, too. I guess it was all just too flattering-sweet to be substantial. ;)

(btw, I shouldn't be writing poems at all. I should be working on the edits of my book, which are due on Wednesday! so shh...I was never here. I'm sitting in that barred room, with my red pen pressed to a page :))

bard said...

I envy your command of language... you create such fantastic images!

the walking man said...

Sarah...What a wonderfully written dance, I could see her flying and being caught in her expectation and trust of her partner of the page as the words progressed. Just beautiful and then to get to that fabulous, and I do mean fabulous ending.

Dreams and visions oft require a test but in this one instance she gets a complete pass and gets to go back to dreaming of the ballet between music, movement and word.

catvibe said...

This, my favorite romance of all time. I love how you have woven the lyrical dialogue with the dance. And am floored by the dreams crumbling into unhappy reality, we want to be Juliets, to love with unfathomable passion, we fear we are the unobtainable Roseline. Slap me down to Earth! The form of this poem is sublime, its one I'm going to read again and again.

Did I mention that I can't watch Zefferelli's version of the movie in public? It doesn't matter that I've seen it well over 30 times, I always SOB. Did you sob in your English class over this? I can imagine that happening. Simply gorgeous.

Nevine said...

And so you sweep us off our feet, into the air, and allow us to feel like we're doing our own grands jetés. Here is the elegance of ballet with the stifled passion that's screaming to come out. Ballet, Bard, Ballet, Bard. But this is so true: "...spread for a satisfaction Will couldn't pen...". He couldn't. He just planted the seed, and Sarah watered it until a child was born. There is so much exquisite language here, so much drama and desire and... that unexpected jump of reality right into our laps... right at the end. So much reality, it took me back to my freshman year in high school, when we read Romeo and Juliet, and we all wanted to have our own balcony scene. I loved every line of this sweet poem, Sarah. Every single word.


joaquin carvel said...

though i'm sure you're hard at work on your edits now....i'm so glad you took a break to write this. i don't often use the word "delightful", but i think it applies here.

the first time through, the romance and music and movement so swept me away i was living it on "stage boards
bowed with sweat and lace" - "smoking my blood" - and the slip and turn is so well done that the abruptness of the fall & "thud" is as graceful as the dance. that, to me, is a feat in itself. i love when a poem can blindside me with that kind of fluidity.

i also feel there's a remarkable connection to the abandon of a young heart, and to the particular sting it's susceptible to - maybe not juliet, but rosaline?! - and the way it can hold onto the delirium of possibility even in the face of predetermined answers.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Brava, Sarah! From the opening lines, to the final curtain, it is filled with interesting twists and turns. Gorgeous language gives way to artistic verse. This is simply fearless and dazzling! You have captured so many elements - the ballet, the music, the very playfulness that Shakespeare, himself, exhibited in some of his works - and that great ending! Ranks as one of my top five favorites here. So good!!!!

Sarah Hina said...

Thank you, guys.

I will reply to all of your wonderful comments soon. My book edits are due, and I'm behind. Unfortunately, my granddad just passed away, too.

But I wanted to let you all know that I love and appreciate you guys. I'm just really grateful to have you here in my life.

the walking man said...

Your grandfather is well and safely resting in his ancient home. Be from the strength of you nature as the near days unfold.

Aniket said...

Hahaha! This was so much fun. I used to drool over my history paper too. Reading the piece with that music in the background takes one to a whole new world. I don't do dance, but I sure as hell, like watching it.

I was in that play in my school. Did not play Romeo though. :( They always made me the villain. I was the High sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood too. :P