The City Rhythm

Maria Tallchief and George Balanchine 1958

“The game enforces smirks, but we have seen
The moon in lonely alleys make
A grail of laughter of an empty ash can,
And through all sound of gaiety and quest
Have heard a kitten in the wilderness.”

-       Hart Crane, excerpt, “Chaplinesque”

The City Rhythm

Against the modern city rhythm I will place
a Napoleonic tapestry
an antique sewing machine
an aging brandy
and a war photo of my grandfather,
and I’ll sit and watch my hands grow old as the golden hills.

I want
to build a poem out of Roman marble and Algonquian
labradorite. Fiery kilns cooking canvas shoes
for Margot Fonteyn and Lily St.Cyr,
strand to strand, the shocking hammerings of Stravinsky
or hollow rush of Johnny Hartman and the west side mysteries—
O’Hara, Spicer, decoding and arranging
like jazz, like orchestras,
like syncopation…

Oh, Maria Tallchief, Ballet Russe
You could not fit a tiny pirouette
within this one small plot of earth unpaved.
I am lonely for every other decade but my own.

[copyright Taylor Roberts 2010]

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