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~~a chant royal~~

They tore the monument of you and me
up by the roots last night, spindly sapling
when we met, the leaves threw no shade till we
each set off on bloodline paths of killing,
crisply uniformed, or maintained clan worth
by withholding a cherry, no vain birth
or independent thought condoned. The hell?
Even today, I itch sometimes to tell
originators of our tiresome fear—
more I sought to please you, the worse I fell.
It is all choreography, my dear.

The maple grew. We both found ways to free
ourselves with mind-expanding routes, thrilling
at the best of times. No disharmony
could stop us from bedding other willing
changers of the world. Supple limbs and mirth,
they were eternal, surely! Excess girth
and other swills of disappointment, well,
they couldn’t encroach while under the spell
of productive possibility. Year
by year, fruits of sweet experience fell.
It is all choreography, my dear.

Today, our tree impedes economy.
How is it that, when we weren’t looking,
the buds it threw like chopper blades, spilling
onto woodsy glades gave way to reality?
How is it that, while we aren’t looking,
fresher minds envision a different earth?
Do they not treasure memories of a dearth
of joy, the killing fields, the tolling bell?
How dare they wake each day with hope, a swell
of humantide delighted to be here?
Soon enough, their naïvete will gell.
It is all choreography, my dear.

On, the other hand, where I used to be
might matter less if death were not chilling
with her accelerating destiny,
time and sense to a cruel brew distilling.
What seems the now may be the afterbirth
that, once expelled, holds no intrinsic worth.
Much like the use of entrails to foretell,
the guts I had back then are pretty well
a done dead thing. Learning to boldly spear
new attitudes does not, at first, go well.
It is all choreography, my dear.

Wood chips lie beneath this bench, once a tree
where you carved our initials. It’s telling,
don’t you think, that generations on see
not what we instruct them. Rebelling
is the stuff of youth; constant going forth
rejuvenates, forgetting all the hurt,
denying quarter to a former hell
because I’ve only room for good. Do tell!
I do, and listen for the sap to clear
fearful residuals, let silence quell.
It is all choreography, my dear,

and life’s the dance hall. Keep up and dispel
past stumbles. I can lead or follow well
to further what is best of now. I hear
them playing your song at the new bandshell.
It is all choreography, my dear.


© Elaine Stirling, 2017
The image of dancers comes from the blog of British artist Sally McKay. You can follow her extraordinary work on Twitter @McKay_Sally.