I Am The True Giselle She Said, She Did Not Say - Poem by mary douglas
for Olga Spessivtsova-
and to all the Giselles, the Swan Queens,
transformed and transforming
I am the true Giselle she said; she did not say;
it was for someone else to say or not.
the swan transformed in the lakes of a living mirror:
meticulously pearled within or the wavering of what you
glimpsed underwater before you came up for air on
a summer's day, an opal breeze
when you are lost, in need of wings.
oh is it really true foreshadowing of the soul's eternal
freedom? their flight into lakes of light beyond the dress
circle. sparkling only for itself. oh rise
en pointe, as if God lifted you, there and there: the rose,
the cloud, the pale blue intersections of
the far dimensions. forget yourself on cue;
you must or what is training for or life or anything
the handsewn sequined dress spinning out, centrifugal
petals on a flower whirled through opposing fronts:
hand layered with tulle and starlight and a sudden
released from the jewel box stations of no cross
to the storm of music, the flaring of old griefs, illusions
set to music; the studied drift, the tips of satin shoes catch a gleam from somewhere else and are you
walking on Light as if you were jeweled
whisper her predecessors in every language
and are we somewhere else.
so that later, walking out from the theater
on legs like pins
like the fairy tale's mermaid for the
first time, on land
can you understand
when the mirror no longer clouds with your breath.
you're no longer recognizing
the metro stop across the streets
the little grocery with the red onions and
in the after-mirage, still snowing, of the matinee-
in the trackless woods of
who you were and where
you meant to go
in the late afternoon
mary angela douglas 12 july 2014
Note on the poem: I only saw Olga Spessivtsova and heard her sorrowful, beautiful story through the dream-like, incredible documentary by Anton Dolin called A Portrait of Giselle which I saw on the A& E Channel (in 1988) when it was still about the Arts and not Law and Order repeats and I have merged these images with my childhood love of ballets and my later feeling, after seeing a Kirov Ballet matinee of Giselle in the early 90's at Kennedy Center when I walked past the yellow leafed early autumn trees and the roar of traffic by the Watergate still dazed by what I had seen and far removed from my surroundings.
The poem began today as I remembered the beautiful voice of the French ballerina Yvette Chauviré in the documentary,
recounting how someone had called her 'The True Giselle'.
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