Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Provocation of Goodbyes (Poem)

The Provocation of Goodbyes:
Homage to Isadora
(1878 - 1927)

Isadora Duncan came out of California,
child of poet and divorce,
a jigsaw of contradicting odes.

Barefoot, bare-legged,
she practiced Greek legends
in smoky Chicago beer halls

A fairy to Titania's Puck
on New York's grandest stage.

Staving off hunger in Newport,
she rose and stood to London's call.

Unfixed as the year of her birth,
this impostor done up
in sheer veils and thinner drapery

Cut so fine a figure
Paris fell
and Berlin followed.

Munich rained flowers
and Athens took to its hills

As choruses in once-ancient Byzantium
echoed Rome's commands.

Isadora mined a dreamed and inward country:
gardens of Whitman lilacs, unkept oaths
of gentlemen in black silk top hats,
young fools intent on revolution.

Vienna brought Gordon Craig,
two babes and Beethoven's Ninth,
a stillbirth and goodbyes.

     Isadora was always saying goodbyes.

Rhythms she cradled in unfettered feet.

In his March the length of her enormous scarf,
she wrapped her shivery heart
in a token pact with Chopin.

Men everywhere adored her.

Once a Russian poet
who married her
and later went away
took his own life in Leningrad.

Isadora invented a red
deeper than the caverns of tear-stained eyes.

She wrapped Essenine's absence
in a shawl of dust,
emptied heart's pockets of his poems,
her hands of his now-cold touch.

A piece of cloth wound round a wheel;
her hands rebelled a too-late gesture.

     Isadora was always saying goodbyes.

Copyright © Maureen E. Doallas. All Rights Reserved.


Glynn said...

My knolwedge of Isadora Duncan is limited to the movie with Vanessa Redgrave playing the title role (which I thought was a great match of role and actress). This poem captures her differently and perhaps better. "She was always saying goodbyes."

Louise Gallagher said...

Oh Maureen. Thank you. Like Glynn, my knowledge of Isadora Duncan is limited. Your poem makes me want to run out and find books about her life so that I too can know the woman who 'was always saying goodbyes.'

This poem is beautiful.

Joyce Wycoff said...

Wow, Maureen, I now feel like I know her ... beautiful, evocative poem. You are a treasure.

Anonymous said...

of gentlemen in black silk top hats

talk about time travel...

L.L. Barkat said...

Made me shiver.

Someday, Maureen, I'll have your words on my bedside table.