Thursday, December 4, 2008


The Star by Edgar Degas


hello dreamer
you were the dancer
on sleek legs
of muscles hewn
on toes of hope
on dusty floors
arms outstretched
in a pose of
twirling magically
and then dying

cool ivory skin
smooth like glass
I touched you then
but did not know you
but I loved your magic

in you I saw
the reality of dreams
the beauty of youth
the ever stretching hope
of things to come
and the world as mine

you were me
and I was you
we didn’t know it then
until arm against arm
we saw the reflection


Catvibe said...

This is lovely. My favorite stanza,
in you I saw
the reality of dreams
the beauty of youth
the ever stretching hope
of things to come
and the world as mine

I love it when this feeling comes over me, very well captured, and danced...

Vesper said...

Beautiful poem, K… I see, I remember myself in it. I hear it also as a wondrous song, its melody the nostalgia of promises, of possibilities... Something I was feeling in my teen years, when the world was still whole, waiting to be taken…
the ever stretching hope
of things to come

Somehow, I’ve never lost this hope.

Rick said...

Hello K Lawsen, you continue to delight and surpise me. My sister, who passed away years ago God bless her, was a ballet dancer. My brother, loves both Van Gogh and Degas. When the Degas exhibit came through Detroit, we went through it together and he was very patient explaining things to me that I saw but didn't notice. Your poem there brings back good memories for me. Thank you.

Julie said...

This is so, so beautiful. I cried when I read it. My friend who was a dancer passed away a few years ago, and she felt like a sister. She was too young and beautiful to die. You have moved me greatly (but in a good way).

My favorite stanza is the first. The crucifixion image and these four lines are amazing:

"on sleek legs
of muscles hewn
on toes of hope
on dusty floors"

Actually, that entire stanza is amazing and hit me in the gut with a powerful punch. Thank you for this poem.

Sarah Hina said...

So achingly lovely, K. There's a quiet acknowledgment of something huge here...a wanting and a having. And through its deceptive simplicity, the words are given room to stretch and dance.

the reality of dreams--that line spun me around. You're right, of course--there is a convergence sometimes, and when it lives, it dazzles. We remember.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Cat - I love that feeling, too - that sense of euphoria that rushes in like a wave and gently rolls out again. Thanks so much.

Vesper - I am glad you still have that hope - as do I. I had so many aspirations as a young girl - some realistic and some just plain fantasy. I have lived a blend of the two, which has given me such a beautiful and happy life - with so much more to be realized.

I loved your comment. You are such a deep and sensitive soul.

Rick - it seems, as though, we have much in common. Happy to have reminded you of cherished moments spent with siblings. It makes me feel good to be able to impell you with my simple words, toward the sunny slopes of long ago.

The Degas exhibit must have been impressive beyond the beyonds. Glad y'all got to see it.

Julie - Heartrendingly, so many beautiful people die too young. Will we ever make sense out of it? What sense could be made? Our collective losses are insurmountable. Thankfully, we have our memories to hold us up.

The very lines you picked are my favorite in this piece.

If, as a poet, I have prompted tender feelings - there is no better compliment to pay me.

Blessing to you, my friend. K

Sarah - I like the way you put that - "...a quiet acknowledgment of something huge here...a wanting and a having."

Somehow, you are able to extract my very meaning. It is a gift you have. Sometimes, you even explain my poems to me, for which I love and thank you. ;)

Minister of the Masochistic Truth said...

There is definitely a nostalgic aspect to this piece, emphasised through the mirror, the dusty floor, etc. I suppose I associate the images presented in this piece to belonging to a world and a youth that was a bit more accoustic in nature, where the Arts took precedence over many things and their was a painful but beautiful discipline in life.

...Don't know if that makes any sense, but, like Catvibe and Vesper note, there is that sense from when the "world was whole". It's like comparing Europe to North America; culture vs commercialism, Mozart to Brittany Spears... We have lost some much of life's essence through making the Arts secondary to the drama of 24/7 high speed cutlure of today. I guess that's why I love Film Noir...

Wonderful writing - thank you for the feelings.

Billy said...

Beautiful poem, with understated elegance giving the lines even more poignancy.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Minister - you raise some excellent talking points! The world HAS lost some of its luster, as far as style is concerned. I miss some of the gentil qualities of life that were the norm when I was younger. (Not that I am old) There is definitely a different feel to the world now.

Your keenly perceptive remarks are always appreciated.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Billy - I am grateful for the wonderful comment. It makes me feel as though my writing is, somewhat, effective. I was hoping a certain sense of sadness or regret would be evident in this poem. Many thanks.

KGT (aka Cagey) said...

I am intrigued by the possibilities of interpretation with this piece; much of your other readers have covered, yet I left the poem thinking of twins-especially vanishing twins (wiki or google vanishing twins)and psycho-spiritual implications. Anyway, wonderful piece.

Sarah Hina said...

I often feel the same way about you, K! Thank you for the lovely compliment.

We're very lucky to be able to reach out to one another in this way. I love all these quiet, but meaningful, connections in our blog community. :)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

KGT - Thanks for introducing the theory of Vanishing Twins to me - what a fascinating prospect. Also, thanks for stopping by and leaving a kind remark. :)

Sarah - ;) You're welcome, dear sister poet. Yes, I think we are indeed fortunate to be able to link up, relate, and communicate via our blogs. Wonderful to find simpatico friends!

S.L. Corsua said...

The description of movement in the first stanza does have the element of something everlasting, like a memory of a real person passing from generation to generation and later gaining the status of someone legendary. ;) The last stanza makes me misty-eyed; such purity in the notion of the bonds of sisterhood, by blood or not.

Karen said...

This is just beautiful, so evocative. I can see the sleek legs, the toes of hope, the dusty floor...and the watcher with her longings and her own hopes. The melding of the two is superb.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

S. L. - I appreciate your very eloquent and discerning response. You have tapped into the very spirit of this poem with your keen sensibilities. Yes, those beautiful bonds of sisterhood, blood or not, are enough to make any woman misty-eyed. Thank you, S.L. :)

Karen - You caught the essence of this poem. I think it is wonderful that you got out of it, what I put into it! Of course, I was that "watcher" so hopeful of being able to dance in the Ballet like my sister - and I did, for awhile anyway! Ergo, the reflection. ;)

Rick said...

Someday, K Lawsen, I hope to hear more about your time in the ballet!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Rick, Thank you. That is very sweet of you. I'm afraid it wasn't very glamorous - I was young and danced with a local troupe for seven years or so. However, my sisters and I were very fortunate to have studied under Andre Van Damme, the founder of The Charleston Ballet (WV).

Aine said...

Sometimes we need a reflection to truly see ourselves. Sisters are perfect for that job!

I could smell rosin, feel the satisfying stretch of muscle, and hear the hushed excitement while waiting in the wings while reading this.

I danced when I was young, too. I was invited to apprentice in a small, local company. But, alas, school activites seemed more important to my 13-year-old heart. I did meet (and share the stage with!) Peter Martins and Heather Watts when they were guests in our production of the Nutcracker. Ahhh-- they were magical together...

Minister of the Masochistic Truth said...

...Again, all this talk leaves me yearning for classicism... I have to teach a Social Dance unit in my PE classes and we have this bloke in this week teaching Hip Hop. This makes me cringe. I know, I'm and old geezer, but honestly, how does this modern stuff compare with the classics? I know they are all distant relatives, but still...!

blue possum said...

Very beautiful poem!

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Aine - thank you for sharing your experience. It isn't easy to make a choice at 13. But, I just know that you got involved in many worthwhile activities in school :)

While dancing, one feels liberated, but a lot of pain goes into making it look effortless. And yes, sisters are the perfect mirror sometimes. Thanks!

Minister - LOL - you are NOT an old geezer! You just have refined tastes and there is nothing wrong with that. But, you know - Hip Hop has its place. ;) Thanks Minister.

Blue Possum - thanks for your comment. I am glad you liked this. ;)

Rick said...

K Lawsen, every time I read this it just reads better!

Anonymous said...

I came late in life to ballet. Perhaps that is why I still feel I witness the reality of dreams when I watch the dancers.

Love the gaze following the muscles to the toes to the floor and up again.

Anonymous said...

So, so beautiful. I especially like how you juxtapose. You put small cuts in your woven beautiful. Here, it's the mention of the crucifixion.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Rick - It is so nice that you have come back to read this a few times. I'm glad that you have found something in it that gratifies. ;)

Yuzu - It is such a strong feeling, isn't it? Our hopes and dreams all summed up in an arabesque? Thank you for commenting on those particular lines...I was hoping to capture movement with them. ;)

Jason - It is beautiful in life when we see the order of things - to compare them, to look at their differences and/or similarities. As with life - art. So, it goes and goes.

gel(Emerald Eyes) said...

(I read the comment thread *after* I post my thoughts so as to be pure.) This is too raw for it not to have been true, whether Jo was a blood sister, as it feels, or a friend. The truth foreshadowed "crucifixion" and later abrupt and harsh "twirling magically" juxtaposed against "and then dying."

That last stanza burst me into tears, imagining the translucency of skin from devastating illness.

Someday, I hope to courageously ask if I may sketch dancers. Ever since a child, I'd gaze at art history books in awe or hear my parent, the artist, talk of Degas and other famous ones.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Gel - thank you so much for your heartfelt response. I love your honest and personal comments. When you do sketch the dancers, i would love to see them! <3 K