Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2019  Vol. 18 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Swan Lake with Dostoevsky

Watching Rudolf Nureyev & Margot Fonteyn
In Swan Lake pas de deux
On The Ed Sullivan Show, May 16, 1965
On YouTube, in black & white, on my iPhone 6
I watch & watch & watch
Wanting to see & then
I see

When Rudolf dances with Margot
He becomes Margot
This pas de deux is brief, so his
Attention is complete, he devours
What she shows: how to be her
He is almost there, & then is
Inside her

Owns what she needs, a swan

But when he dances alone as Prince Siegfried
He shows that he has a dream
We are not sure what it is, for
He hides loneliness inside beauty
Makes the body’s silence stunning
Because, in effect, we never know: are we loved?
To be loved by one particular person
It’s ridiculous to ask for this

He makes this silence stunning

With every step he renews the dream
Makes now into new
& keeps loneliness inside music
Sets a boundary between music & dance
& keeps ballet strictly inside the dream

Music is time, time, time
To die so suddenly, in ten minutes, six, now one
Lizaveta returning home by chance
With a big bundle in her hands
To find Raskolnikov with an axe

This silence is stunning

Because everything was
Thought through, rehearsed
Hundreds of times
To remove new from now
An awkward, quiet Lizaveta
remarkably tall with long,
somehow twisted legs
& a kind face & eyes
A kind of ugly duckling

Loved by all, loving to anyone
Asking nothing for herself

Her very last gesture, darling:
she brought her free left hand up
very slightly, nowhere near her face,
and slowly stretched it out
towards him—  

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