Moscow ballet at seven in the evening.
You look at everything. You lay your cheek
against my shoulder, smoothing down my sleeve,
the Russian blizzards somehow less than bleak,
portrayed with whimsy on the backdrop screens
in dolloped watercolors as they are.
I ask if you know what their movement means.
You wish our situation not so far.
And everywhere, the audience defies
convention and conformity, some dressed
as though they had been made to improvise
at the last minute, some in black-tie best.
You’re happy, in new satin, having run
your fingers countless times from hip to hem –
Anastasia, whereas I am anyone
in tan, beside a jade and garnet gem.
With clarity and ease like these a-stage,
comparison with any else in life
seems but the smart annoyance of an age,
scissors beside a blunted paperknife.
“Sit up. Pay close attention. Sugar Plum
is dancing with such dignity,” I tell
you, half-disheartened, when I hear you hum,
you know Tchaikovsky’s symphony so well.