ballet russe


Along a cinder pathway
through November woods
Hobo, in one of his moods
murmurs a Mississippi lay.

Under his arm, his matryoshka
maiden – his mater within
mater, painted, wooden;
on his head, folded like Chippewa

canoe, an old felt hat
crimson as pileated
woodpecker.  Belated
prophet from Yehoshephat,

brown Mississippi of decision!
He mutters a woman’s name
under his breath (same
as under his arm) : Marion,

Miriam, Magdalen... Jessie,
Juliet... Beatrice, Jeanne...
Natasha... each one
enclosing the other (ballet

russe).  Sacre du Printemps.
1913, at end of May.
Pirouette, grand jeté...
Juliet, sans seine.  Lamps

are going out all over Europe.
Hobo yet knots his woolly
safety net – the glory
of the Lord, letter & envelope.


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