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Gloves & Dark Glasses

April 22, 2010

by Diane Wakoski

How did a great Red-tailed Hawk
come to lie — stiff and dry —
on the shoulder of
Interstate 5
Her wings for dance fans

from “The Dead By the Side of the Road,” by Gary Snyder

I saw the doe
placed so carefully, fanned out,
the embankment scrolling upwards,
in a pose she could not have assumed that way.
Silk-scarf ivory, sere limned against winter grass,
eyes still glossy as polished jasper, her delicate hoof extended like
a lady’s ungloved hand, she must have danced
across Jolly Road, and some driver-poet,
like Bill Stafford, got out
and puzzled about her fate/ Isadora
Duncan, leaping in the
Athenian Hills
with her Grecian chorus of young
boys, sandaled Aphrodite of Kopanos Hill —
she might have been there, watching in a toga-d pose,
but I, wearing dark glasses and passing by
the next day, was presented only
with a dead deer, not the dancer she
might have been.

What gloves do we wear when removing a
fallen deer to the verge
of the road? Ivory, sere,
silk or suede?
Could it be
that they are the gloves of invisibility that wrap
our dancing feet,
our hooves splayed out
as if they were Isadora never-caught in the scarf
of her longing, only leaping?

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Author’s notes
Isadora Duncan captured 20th century imagination with her innovative dancing that featured a return to Classical Greek forms. She helped set a healthy fashion for artists to go “natural,” wearing sandals as part of that gesture, and of course she died famously, riding in an open car, her long scarf trailing in the wind, only to get caught in the wheels of the auto to strangle her.

“Bill Stafford”: See William Stafford’s poem, “Travelling Through The Dark.”

Diane Wakoski’s latest book, The Diamond Dog, is now available from Anhinga Press (see the review in the Christian Science Monitor). She is the author of more than twenty collections of poems and continues to teach at Michigan State University as a University Distinguished Professor.

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