Watching a dancer
by Martin Burke
[ poetry - october 04 ]
who as she moves creates a vivid history
I'd rather participate in than observe
as she becomes a bird struggling
in an element unfamiliar to her
where her great wings cannot stretch.
I pity the compromises she must make;
the forced choices, the abeyance
of free will as defined by the books
I lived by for thirty years until,
like the dancer, they collapsed under
their own improbability. Now I live by
the shadow vagueness of the sub-schemes
of the good and the beautiful and,
like the dancer, imitating a bird attempt
to dance the intricate steps of flight
and landing. It is here, as Verlaine
so rightly said, that the undefined and
the exact combine. It become a landscape,
a geography in which the cage is one
of its features. A history takes place there
and you may either participate or observe.
Heel to the earth, toe to the earth, the dance
tells everything: the books you have read
and the books you have forgotten;
the sub-text of shadows you live by
where your intentions are never guaranteed
fulfilment -which is why you identify
with the bird. Its struggle and dance are your own
as you seek to combine the undefined with the exact.
See! Even here, even now, I fall back on poetry
for landscape and substance!
Poetry - the bright colored bird of desire;
the blood-spattered one of a mind seeking confirmations
beyond the cage where it dances, struggles, dances.
Yes, when the bird moves it creates that history
I will one day call my own; the one I rehearse
with these steps and lines, these shadow outlines
of that music danced to which is the cage and what will be