Dancing time and space
Men are not forbidden here,
but seldom risk this hall
packed full with women of a certain age.
– Mindful attention to the knees.
Poor Emma Bovary was just a needy child,
sad Anna K not thirty
when they died so painfully.
– Eyes softly focussed.
It's safe to say that most us
are twice their age or more, well past
hope or fear of tragic passion.
– Mindful attention to the hips.
We do our best to undulate our stiffened bones
like yogic cats, like swaying trees,
like steadfast Sanskrit-speaking warriors.
– Soft face, easy breath.
We are an antique navy of creaking ships
afloat on the parquet floor
in boat pose, the navasana.
– Mindful attention to the back.
We pull our navels gently to our spines,
breathe in, breathe out,
– Slow breath, steady mind.
Standing, we are Shiva, dancing time
and space into being, perhaps a little wobbly
over rusty ankles on our rainbow mats.
Still, poised with one knee just-bent,
braced, strong, the other hip swung open
like the gate to a new multiverse,
its thigh and foot high-tilted, balanced
by ballerina hands held sideways-lifted
in a frozen moment from creation's dance,
we touch the electricity
of space and time.
I was well pleased to have the chance to catch up with Jenny Blackford here in Melbourne when this tip top poem was highly commended in the Melbourne Poets Union International Poetry Prize. Jenny and her husband Russell live in Newcastle, with their well-beloved cat, and they happened to have planned a trip to Melbourne, and then Jenny heard her poem was short listed, and the dates co-incided. Fate. Or something very like that. We had a calming drink at Young & Jackson's and then headed on up to Collected Works for the shindig. And how well Jenny read the poem when her turn came. I was very taken with it. I am picking that it will be a foundation poem for Jenny's next book. Her first book, The Duties of a Cat (Pitt Street Poetry) is still available I think.