Memory and Nijinsky’s Last Performance

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by Eric Norris (April 2018)
 


Blue Window, Henri Matisse, 1913

 

Memory

 

It is an antique system of small weights

And pulleys sealed inside a window frame

Long painted shut: one where a silly face

Grins and grimaces. It is not the same

 

Face for you, but you should recognize

The basic features: the squashed, greasy nose

Print left on the pane, the two crossed eyes,

The pink tip of a tongue thrust so close

 

Against the surface you can almost taste

The cold—that lingering ammonia

Zing. It never quite evaporates—

That funny flavor. Blue. Millennia

 

From now, I bet, whatever lights glide past,

Memories taste sharp like that. Clean glass.
 

 

 


Nijinsky, Franz Kline, 1947
 

 

Nijinsky’s Last Performance

 

Let’s see. The clouds mirrored the rubble

Below, hard and dark. So, we danced,

And drank. A few smoked contraband Luckies,

Accompanied by me—my balalaika.

 

We occupied one sector of Vienna.

We passed the awful Molotov grade vodka

Around, to prove we were good comrades. Then,

I was sixteen. I’d drink and I’d turn red—

 

Scarlet as the star pinned to my cap.

The songs we sang were not political,

Just simple peasant melodies. The sound

Bounced across the cobbles in the square

 

And up the curb—like a blind man’s cane—

Until the music touched this couple—older

People—Russians. I stopped strumming when

They joined us. We had never seen ballet.

He kissed his wife. She held his coat and hat.

Scorched by schizophrenia and war,

His dark eyes sparkled and he smiled, “Play.

I’ll show you how to dance on your own grave.”



 

___________________________________
Eric Norris‘s short stories and reviews have appeared in: Foglifter, Ambit, Impossible Archetype, The Peacock Journal, Classical Outlook, E-Verse Radio, Singapore Poetry, Softblow, Assaracus, Glitterwolf, New Walk Magazine, The Raintown Review, The Goodmen Project, The Nervous Breakdown, and American Arts Quarterly. His latest book is Astronomy For Beginners.

More by Eric Norris.

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