Wednesday, December 10, 1997

AT THE WAR MEMORIAL OPERA HOUSE

AT THE WAR MEMORIAL OPERA HOUSE

We sat in paneled boxes waiting 
for the orchestra to fine tune itself. 
The tall Nutcracker stared at the audience.
It was like stepping back in time.
I was transported to the Russian Imperialist Court
Remembering how Valera stood outside 
the Bolshoi Ballet Opera House in the snow 
and it was all blue and white, and blue again.
Ya lu blu, he said. I love you.
It was a marriage of snow and sky
in post communist Russia. Dancing bears
and sugar plum fairies.

I was remembering a neighbor's friend, 
Fritz Leonhardt who took me to my first opera 
to see Madame Butterfly. I was dressed in teal
 & turquoise chiffon. My cousin's old prom dress.
Fritz was an illustrator for Macy's and I Magnan's.
He drew his signature long, willowy models
that undulated across the back pages
of newspapers and magazines 
with that aloof come hither look 
that would confuse generations of men.
Alien creatures, figments of his imagination.
He drew women of Amazonian proportions.
A gay man's ideal of womanly elegance,
giraffe-necked creatures with legs
that went up to their chins.
I despaired, these were ideals
I could never reach, I was not tall, nor elegant,
not like that social butterfly,Tallulah Bankhead 
who appeared in a peacock sequined gown 
that hissed like a snake when she 
slithered across the marble floor.

12/10/1997
10/15/2015
War Memorial Opera House, San Francisco
San Francisco

first draft:
We are in boxes awaiting the orchestra to fine tune itself.
It's like stepping back in time.
I am transported to the Russian Imperialist Court
Remembering how Valera stood outside the Bolshoi Opera House
in the snow and it was all blue and white, and blue again.
Ya lu blu, he said. It was a marriage of snow and sky
in post communist Russia. Dancing bears.
I was remembering a neighbor's friend, Fritz Leonhardt
who took me to my first to see Madame Butterfly.
He was an illustrator for Macy's and I Magnan's.
He drew his signature long, willowy models
that undulated and slinked across the back pages
of newspapers and magazines with that aloof
come hither look that would confuse generations of men.
Those alien creatures were figments of his imagination.
He drew women of Amazonian proportions.
They were a gay man's ideal of womanly elegance,
those giraffe-necked creatures with legs
that went up to their chins, unattainable ideals
I could never reach, I was not tall, nor elegant,
not like Tallulah Bankhead who appeared
in a green sequined gown that hissed like a snake
when she slithered across the marble floor.

12/10/1997
San Francisco