Why Dancers Wear White And Some Wear Red, poem by Jeanine Stevens

      Because the first flower was white.
      Because they are ancient birds. Because
      their arms pull comets from the sky.
      Because dancing is celestial business.

      Because they soar like Mesozoic birds,
      above the black glass lake,
      trust the buoyancy of air,
      the obscure pirouette, and
      tail feathers shouting the grand jete.

      Because they are uncertain if shoulders
      will hold them in unexpected mist.
      So they dance to Tchaikovsky
      singing like swans toward the sky.

      And some wear red—dance
      the Merengue, releasing all rhythm.
      It is not what the mother holds
      back that frees the daughter.
      The mystery of her body’s unknown
      strength continues to excite.

      Ignore the skilled: the skater
      who performs three triples,
      the artist who insists on widest borders
      for their sketch. She can shout
      like the audience, hold molten galaxies

      between her limbs, then suddenly appear
      at the Moulin Rouge, dance the Can-Can
      perform a Ronde Jamb, and see patrons
      all looking like Toulouse-Lautrec
      clapping, stomping on tabletops.


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Alan King
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