My Dancer



The first day I moved into the studio

I was tired, my jacket was tight

and aligned perfectly

with my jeans and shoes

so that I was careful

not to paint unto myself,

to paint away myself,

to paint something else:

I met the teachers

and spoke little

and sometimes simply

looked around

despite closing eyes

still seeing time

as I did in the Americas

six hours behind.

That night

I drank

in the kitchen

and when I woke

in the morning

I woke late,

and the world seemed

just as I had left it:

lonely despite company

and ever-spare.

Then I stood at the window

as tall as myself

and, feeling

all around me 

the white light,

drowned myself

and when my eyes

stopped choking

I saw the Bardini,

saw the chapel on the hill

and suddenly everything

seemed opposite of what

it had in the night.

The world seemed full of life:

color on the hillside

and the birds seemed

to create patterns 

as they flew, twisting aloof,


at home on their stoop

on my balcony:

everything now was art. 





Day I. of clay

I wrapped my hands

around the wire base

that stunk of metal,

the way a cut does

if it has come

from something

that reeks of rust, 

transitive but real —

and I touched it

and bent it.

At first it did not

nod to me, to my hands

and thumbs

but instead

refused to lift itself,

the body, the head

and instead remained immobile,

until we seemed

to reach an agreement

in which we moved together:

I put in all of my weight 

from my hands

to the cold press

of my cheek or face

onto the metal,

as if I had to put,

from the very beginning,

all of me into him.





Slap after slap

I placed clay

on the base,

and at first

to those watching

he seemed devilish,

uneven, unlovable

and perhaps even intolerable:

his hands were mere lumps,

his legs bumpy and bruised

with palm-presses

and crude little dips

in what would have been

muscle and skin:

I had lost or would lose

any sympathies or admiration

that day,

but I slap, slapped

the clay on anyways,

and at the end

of that day

he may have been


but behind unshapen eyes

was the potential

to one day be great;

to be beautiful

and to weigh

upon that wooden stand

as a force,

a man in his own form:

a dancer.





Suddenly one day

I stood there

on the changing tiles,


like the sculpture

in my hands


with a mind both blank

and aware

molded a leg left,

thicker there

thinner somewhere

where there existed

too-little clay.

When I made

the genitalia 

of the Russian dancer

my teacher stared

for a moment and then


into a back room,

head wobbling around

like Earth out of orbit,

a loose sphere rolling

away, farther

from where I stayed

on the tiles, molding

and shaping


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