“The Unexpected” (Nureyev, Mother Teresa, the Earth’s Core)
I aways told myself that I’d only felt it twice – a certain
stardom that makes one stare – not
because the famous face looks as expected – though
it does – but because
of an odd animal magnetism, a charisma that
forestalls the blink away–
on a betel-stained stair in the blare
of Calcutta, glazed by yellowed haze
and rickshaw putter, when
I caught a crinkled glimpse – her face
so deeply wrinkled beneath the
Teresa in the dim chink of open door.
The other – and they conflate – floating
above cream-tight thighs–
panther dancer, Rudolf Nureyev, his shadowed
cheeks hallowing the leap and carry of Romeo
or some Prince.
I stared from the blistered doorstep, the
velvet ledge, of the standing-room only.
On closer view, and even
as Mother Teresa spoke of the pain of
the unwanted, her lined eyes dark magnets – Nureyev,
his dark eyes lined magnets, pranced
How strange the brain–
with its dance of thought and
and chemical, ego and
selflessness. Later, rushing through me
more strongly than the urge to push, came
my personal icons,
outburst stars, babes, whom I watched, even sleeping, hooked
by a magnetism beyond Earth’s core; each moment
an unanticipated leap
of previously unguessed faith.
Yes, it’s a super odd poem. But, I bet you weren’t expecting it. I’ve been thinking about Mother Teresa since a poem I wrote last week about very very briefly working at her home for the dying in Calcutta (now Kolkata). Here’s a very different view, posted for the dVerse Poets Pub, Poetics prompt, on the “Unexpected,” which I am also hosting today.
Rudolf Nureyev was an incredibly great Russian ballet dancer, from the time of the former Soviet Union. He was performing in Paris, and escaped the Soviet guards, becoming a refugee to the West. He danced for years with the Royal Ballet, as the preferred partner of Margot Fonteyn. He was such an incredibly charismatic dancer that one (and not just me) really could not look at him when he was on stage. He was also technically very skilled. I was lucky to see him perform several times and a couple of times waited backstage and got his autograph! He died in 1993. Although the reason for death was not specified at the time of death, his doctor later confirmed that he had had AIDS.
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