standing on fishes -- by Lucy Rupert

Over the past ten years, I have enjoyed interviewing artists and scientists so much that I have not dedicated much of this blog specifically to my own writing. I used to write quite a bit. I wrote and performed my own music at places like Graffitis and the Freetimes Cafe. I wrote poetry and short stories. Sometimes I was published.

Like many people right now, I have had a lot of time and space to reflect. I have been writing again.

This poem started as a brainstorm for a new solo dance I am creating and its title is a nod to Rainer Maria Rilke. I also acknowledge the soft, Irish nudge of the late John O'Donohue.

Lucy Rupert in dead reckoning, 2016
photo by Omer Yukseker

standing on fishes

a fence of slippery parts
snaps into shape
instant grounding
            made of lost ideas,
the things that don't tether
      while soles hang on.

the dancer        hard-worked these 25 years
      has been waiting unknowingly
for the moment
to ride
for the loss of control -- here we find the
            centre always spoken of in descending
no single word
captures everyone.
     not blueberry
       or corset
       or pull up
       or spread wide
       or build from the bottom
       or feel the opposition
       or suck in your gut
                                    (that one, especially, lands nowhere)

I once had a dream I was walking on a floor
           of bones
and though creepy, my dreamself found it no
                   problem. I crossed like an elephant,
my soles the trunks, scenting the bones
    for family

(I wanted to write "lovers", but even my
    dreamself is aware that is too romantic
    and too dangerous a word for the timid
           creature I have been, now riding scales
of invisible sea monsters
who resemble nothing more horrifying than carp.)

A friend once said I had smart feet.

They wobble more,
     though they spread,
        the years go by (dancing barefoot on hardwood, on marley, sometimes on concrete)

Perhaps realizing the elephant bones
     are fishes:        less stable than
         the past, more tangible
                than the future.

A watery, timid creature
not a swimmer exactly,
I like to dip my toes, stretching to get there,
   to the sand at the bottom
             (Lake Huron, of course,
              or maybe the Atlantic Ocean)

The core of me hurts all the time
       the origin of all movement, all life
       hurts -- all the time now
smart feet try to adjust to the changing air,
to the rippling floor,
  to the clutching in the middle.

I am not afraid that two ideas,
      which seem contradictory, can be equally and
      simultaneously true --

      I wrote this to a beautiful dancer who jousted
      legitimate windmills, so quick and strong he
             couldn't see the fishes. And to the
       fishes he was a red velvet blur ---

my brain can hold two
      at once
  I can track ten or twelves fishes
      at once
when they are not beneath my feet.

      Infinite adjustment is a fence
          that grows stronger and more porous
              as the scales shift and
                  the soles move.

The atmosphere: clear blue ozone
      one plane per evening overhead
my heart has never seen so far.

July 27, 2020
Toronto, ON
copyright Lucy Rupert


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