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Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008 07:06 am

People's poetry

Presented by Jacqueline Jackson

Untitled Document ecopoem #5: wind dancers  

they are dancers a
whole ballet corps
when you come on them
above mendota driving
north acres of their spare
beauty grouped here and
there but separated each
her own space her tall
slim body chaste white
gown feet lost in snow
their maestro is the wind
they move in perfect
synchronicity each slowly
turning her three-armed blades
in unison with her sisters
as far as you can see
it takes your breath away

© Jacqueline Jackson 2008

Here is Arizona poet Steve Orlen’s lovely tribute to the great opera singer, Maria Callas. Most of us never saw her perform, or even knew what she looked like, but many of us listened to her on the radio or on our parents’ record players, perhaps in a parlor like the one in this poem.
In the House of the Voice of Maria Callas
In the house of the voice of Maria Callas We hear the baby’s cries, and the after-supper Rattle of silverware, and three clocks ticking To different tunes, and ripe plums Sleeping in their chipped bowl, and traffic sounds Dissecting the avenues outside. We hear, like water Pouring over time itself, the pure distillate arias Of the numerous pampered queens who     have reigned,
And the working girls who have suffered The envious knives, and the breathless brides With their horned helmets who have fallen in love And gone crazy or fallen in love and died On the grand stage at their appointed moments —
Who will sing of them now? Maria Callas is dead, Although the full lips and the slanting eyes And flared nostrils of her voice resurrect Dramas we are able to imagine in this parlor On evenings like this one, adding some color, Adding some order. Of whom it was said: She could imagine almost anything and give      voice to it.
Poem copyright © 2001 by Steve Orlen. Reprinted from The Elephant’s Child: New & Selected Poems 1978-2005 (Ausable Press, 2006). First published in The Gettysburg Review. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Ted Kooser served as the U.S. poet laureate 2004-2006. For more information, go to www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.
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