Friday, August 1, 2014

Pointe Work

       Great by association

I was great once,
by association.
I imagine that I sauntered
and twirled my tossed curls
passing under Sather Gate
with a grand crème and shiny briefcase.

A few nights after The Great Writer
shared his love
for a breakfast waitress,
I rose from our bed in the middle of the night
-- he was not there --

And I did not know where he was.
(Oh, yes, I did.)
My heart was broken so
I was extremely naked
under a thin pink gown.

I ran into the cool night,
the gown my comet tail in solar wind,
and down the street, stopping
on the corner of 59th and Telegraph.
almost the precise border of two towns.

I stood below the red neon cross
that marked that north edge of Oakland,
a mere shimmer of a woman
before the much more truly pink
Memorial Tabernacle Church.

Then running across the street
to the green-slatted bus bench,
I sat, knees folded in my arms,
and waited, we suppose,
for the bus, the every twelve minute bus.

A bus came, stopped,
whisked open its old doors
with a big wavy swoosh and creak,
but I shook my head "no."
The driver shrugged, drove on,
in a blue sweater with leather-patched elbows.

(Another stupid white girl
sitting on a bench,
may as well be naked
in those cheap pink gowns
shred to flimsy filmy pieces
in the street lamp light.
And they all know where he is.)

Humid air from the bay condensed
upon my body, the famous pink gown
stuck to all those moist places
where it shouldn't   And I knew

I had worn out my welcome as the crazy lady
on the green bus bench on the corner
beneath pink stucco and a red neon cross,
that had so many days guided me home. 

(Just hours ago
with an armload of fresh food
and Peet's unground coffee,
blessed by Chez Panisse
and all the makings of gazpacho.)

Packed by dawn,
when he came home,
I had gone.

We did this dance three times,
pretending a pas de deux --
entrée, adagio,
step pas pas step,
coda -- was just a fractured solo.

I did pointe work,
shreds of buffering cotton
following me around
in my affected dancer's stumpy walk,
until I could rise en pointe again,
ferocious tall, ferocious long.

Three times, I came back.
Three times, I left.

Always for his waitresses,
because "they like [my] poetry."
But the last time, the last time,
I turned left, for once,
and went west
-- left is always west --
into the hills, up rarefied high,

To Kentucky Avenue,
an ambassador's home,
and rented that room with its rocking chair,
from where, mute,
I could see the reflections
of five counties,
the Golden Gate,
but hear no poetry.

Photography credit: A Mélange Et Moi, "The Shoe in Art, The Shoe as Art," 7 January 2011

© 2013 L. Ryan

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