ISSUE 15
February 2001

Karen White

 

Karen White has had poems published in Southern Poetry Review, Yemassee, Karamu, and Heartstone. She is at home and at work on Lake Wateree in South Carolina, and spends summers in her native Wyoming.
Grand Jeté    Click to hear in real audio


I prepared to jump
a grand jeté from deck to dock
no more difficult than leaping across
black and white tiles
under Mrs. Fuller’s arched eyebrows
(shaved and painted-on)

She was a macaw in a pet shop window
in Wyoming in the 60’s
a woman living in leotards and dancing shoes
giving commands in French
to a room full of awkward girls

My husband and I spent most of that Florida
December huddled around an electric heater
in the main salon of Fine Madness
an area no larger than a deep freeze

Except the day we caught
octopuses and stingrays
and the day we sailed
across the gulf’s bathtub

And that day
when I rose gracefully from the deck
remembering Mrs. Fuller at the marina
where I worked as a waitress
the summer after high school

how she recognized me
how I got bored with ballet and
how my mother wanted me to be a ballerina

I came down gracefully     unexpectedly
in a brief opening between deck and dock
in that realm of tropical fish
lost cities
monsters imagined
on lone night watches
where I could be crushed
between the boat
and pilings garlanded
with oysters

And when the old man
working on his decrepit craft
reached out to me
like Baryshnikov
I held on
as he lifted me
into a pas de deux

And the pelicans
wandering the dock
wearing their long faces
were amazed
at the size
of his catch

 

 

Karen White: Poetry
Copyright © 2000 The Cortland Review Issue 15The Cortland Review