Friday, March 28, 2014

AFTERMATH CONTINUES

Fourteen weeks later, awaken to clarity, ending ditziness;
Three more weeks, wake up refreshed, not exhausted.
Another week, awaken to usual energy, feeling myself again.

Residual early evening fatigue, resist 3 events per day.
Ongoing soreness and occasional zigzag twinges.
Grimacing in anticipation of next mammogram.

Foster daughter now dx with severe breast cancer,
Requiring entire menu of treatment modalities
For three-quarters of year: too invasive, too long.

Reminiscences of niece's brain cancer ordeal.
Echoes of secondary trauma shakes core,
Re-threatening dismay, disorientation, disintegration.

Remembering images of dread and terror;
Processing across variety of venues. Love,
Support, appreciation of beauty: Self holds again.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) March 29, 2014

THANKS, GRAM, FOR THE CURLS

Completely straight hair for 60 years;
Decades of envying younger brother
And all others with wavy or curly locks.

Maternal Gramps, Jack's straight, black
Mop of hair, dominant trait, at least 
For two-thirds of jealous lifetime.

At 60, several flights to-and-fro to MN 
During step-mom's final illness;
skipped haircut; discovered latent curls!

Seemingly out of nowhere, but actually
Sent directly yet belatedly from maternal 
Gram, Helen, with cap of soft curls.

Blood is thick; sooner or later, genes
Express themselves, for good or bad.
Waited an almost-lifetime for eruption.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) March 29, 2014

Saturday, March 22, 2014

BALLET HIGHLIGHTS

BRUBECK AND DESMOND'S TAKE FIVE, more or less

Women's vibrant rainbow of cocktail dresses,
Men in black shirts and slacks, splash of red ties.

Multiple variations of dancer partnering; several solos.
Piquat humor, complete with tap dancing and shimmy.

Playfully relating, interweaving, leaping and swirling.
Now with this one, now with that one, now left out.

PÄRT'S KISS

Harnessed in suspended ropes, able to touch stage
To push off into air or slide sideways, almost horizontal.

Couple floats within ebb and flow of love's currents:
Ecstasy, conflict, enmeshment, cut-off, entwined.

Flowing even when fighting, balance of seeker/sought.
Breath-takingly beautiful, soul enhancing, tearful appreciation.

STRAVINSKY'S STATE OF DARKNESS

Lengthy athletic solo: full flex of each muscle, 
Summoned to constant motion and exertion.
Yogic slowness with only one or two points of contact.

Sweaty sheen illustrates extreme effort.
If any excess padding (doubtful) at beginning of 
Rehearsals and performance, none left at end.

CERRUDO'S WORLD PREMIERE

Six songs by six composers, taped rather than live:
Melodic, surreal and haunting, soaring, expansive.

Somber range of shades of grey toward black,
Non-distracting of complex dance patterns.

Flood lights on stage floor, in varying patterns,
Dancers sometimes waiting in twilight.

Frenetic movements of varying groupings,
Bodies intermingling--geometrically, like insects.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) March 22, 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

MID-WEEK BALLET

During half-time/half-pay year, 
Continue to haunt artistic venues,
In cheapest seats, smallest bites to eat.

Enter concert hall to hear pianist 
Practicing sections of all-time favorite 
(well, one of several) tune: Brubeck's Take Five; 
Concert just for me, accompanied by 
Cacophony of other instruments playing 
Same tune at different places--or other
Tunes from tonight's repertoire of Pärt, 
Stravinsky, Cerrudo--modern score indeed.

Art appreciation inherited from family and 
From Castle of the North/Hibbing High School's
Formal auditorium which attracted famous artists.
Fee admission gained by ushering: intense pleasure.

Many others keeping company up here in cheap seats;
Birds'-eye view of both orchestra and choreography,
Which fill heart, feed soul, and expand entire being;
Such largesse prior to curtain going up--what an evening!
Stay tuned for details, additions, and amendments.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) March 20, 2014

WANING ACADEMIC LIFE

Beginning to wind down from collegiate career;
Difficult to imagine lack of regular contact with 
Close colleagues, motivated students, fulfilling tasks.

During 3-year practice toward retirement,
Working 2 quarters full, 2 quarters off:
Bites, tastes, flavors of letting go, unfolding.

Quarter sans meetings yields enormous relief;
Becoming less tolerant of necessary, or at least
Ubiquitous, administrivia and paperwork.

Today, surprising, reassuring, and slightly-unsettling
Schedule with only three events on paper version
Of usually-tighly-packed daily calendar page.

Time available: wake sans alarm clock's insistency;
Aerobic stroll to neighborhood private practice;
Leisurely sit in coffee house, tapping on iPad.

Obvious retirees, breathe in and out, calmly read,
Absorb oxygen at the same rate as news facts;
Lend relaxed ambiance to other patrons' busy days.

I gaze out at rare Seattle sunshine; passively observe
Girl in pink ballerina tutu; adolescent boy body-bumping 
Light-changing button on streetlight pole; moms with strollers;

People in vehicles stop, then await their turns to pursue 
Errands, tasks, business; trees push out buds; pair of beagles 
On red leashes, one paunchy, the other eager and wagging.

At last, some down time to reflect, notice, contemplate, 
wonder in awe and curiosity, practice different rhythm.
Inhale compassion, exhale compassion, again and yet again.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) March 20, 2014

Saturday, March 1, 2014

EPIDEMICS

In 80s, epidemic killed gay men.
Poignant quilts: visual testimony 
Of enormous extent of loss.

Today, people infected with AIDS
Often survive for decades with
Intense cocktail of medications.

Another epidemic, breast cancer,
Usually meant death sentence after
Horrendous treatment options.

Today, medical advances, although
Invasive and tedious and frightening,
Do the job of extending our lives.

Visiting foster daughter for weekend,
One more member of that dreaded club,
Whose members do not want to join.

Night before flight, startlingly clear
Dream of extensive surgery on my
Other breast; scar mimics her incision.

Long-range treatment; success rates.
Bevy of supportive family and friends.
Heavy knees; laughter; rainbows appear.

Ann Beth Blake
(c) March 1, 2013