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Leo Haber

Three Women


("For Mr. Kirstein, the order of ballet was a secular microcosm of the divine order of creation itself. . . . Mr. Kirstein’s love of ballet did not extend to modern dance, despite the fact that he long admired Martha Graham." From an obituary in The New York Times written by Jack Anderson on Lincoln Kirstein, cofounder of the New York City Ballet, January 6, 1996.)

Movement is life; the figures on the vase,
on the Grecian urn that celebrates ceremonies
of pulsing flesh, are inert, frozen, timeless,
the aweful obsequies of art intoned by the
dying artist.

The dancer and the dance are
the very diagram of consciousness, outward show
of inward heart, ticking, vibrating, the body moving
counterclockwise to demanding death, microcosm to the
macro pas de myriads of the spheres, refusing to be
arrested in flight or to be relegated to the parched
page of the choreographer.

When this infinite
universe shrinks to the size of a pin, then to no
thing at all in the black hole of God’s mind—time
stopped, space evaporated—will God’s heart tick,
will She dance, or will It be eternally unmoving?
I think He will explode with vaulting anger, act
the gruff Graham in celestial wings, and joyously
ordain: Let there be movement again!


Pseudonyms stand for something. They are
redolent of mystery and private pacts with
the devil or with the goddess of love.

We burrow in mounds of paper to ferret out
the secrets, to extract delicious tales of
wickedness and to name the malefactors

couched in secret chambers under airy pseudonyms.
Anna O., O how we long to know your full name and
your face and the miraculous moment when, before

Freud, young Breuer’s "talking cure" cut through
to your heart and sutured the mendicant nodules
begging to bear the flow of warm, life-giving blood.

Did you live to follow Freud’s hegira from
ego to id, from pariah to one of the three poles
supporting the tent of modernity? Did you

also survive to follow the master of your master
into exile from tentless Vienna to a safe haven
in London, or, like so many anonymous others,

uncouched, unanalyzed, uncomforted,
did your blood congeal in the wickedness
of a chambered camp of death, pseudonymously?


No one need die for want of poetry
since poems people the earth like
bustling ants at a queen bee’s funeral.

No one need despair over disappearing
children since babies abound like
starving jackals packed on a silken sward.

No one need languish at loss of love
since lovers spring in the night like
darling does eluding the glare of headlights.

And still you languished and despaired
and sought death devoutly as if the last
remembered psalm had been recited to amen,

the last child had bled from the wrinkled womb,
and all love had turned cold in so universal
a global chilling that everywhere

animals froze in flight
and poets wept iron tears
in irreversible silence.

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