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by Christine Marshall

The idea was always
                                transfer: how to use
                the body to eliminate

                                the body; at thirteen,
                to experience bleeding
                                toes as pirouettes turning

to tornadoes
                sucking in
                                and flaring out.

All that connects the dancer
                to the pocked studio floor

                                is a block of wood concealed
                                within a pink satin skin.

Grands jetés across the room
                                to the score of the teacher’s stick,

                                each staccato chaîné
                spotted in the mirror,

                                eyes, head, flat plane
                                of the torso doubling;

numbers choreographed and counted
                                like an iron-clad pulse

                so all steps beat as evenly
                                as blood through the heart.

You can see it happening,
                                the delicate gauze of sweat and heft

                as each dancer strives
                                                to skirt the angles
                of the flesh, to strain herself

                                into the glitter
of sun through skylight.

And is this after all
                                these years,
                                                the point? To lose

the matter of the self,
                                to move beyond

                the body’s weights & levers,

                                those sensible mechanics
                                that keep us functioning?

Clearly we are flesh,
                not air. Yet how we lean

                                toward that crossing,
                the loss of body,

                movement as movement
                                alone, voices now

                                                becoming instruments,

                                words becoming
                no more, no less, than breath:

                                                                watch as we expire.


Christine Marshall is a PhD candidate at the University of Utah. She’s been a finalist for the “Discovery” / The Nation Prize, the Ruth Lilly Prize, and the Mahan Poetry Prize, and received a University of Utah Burton Fellowship. (10/2005).

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AGNI Magazine :: published at Boston University ©2008 AGNI