The light collapsed with the weight of dusk
As we went to watch the ballet.
We only ever went that one time.
A special performance. In fact,
I had never seen ballet before
Or since – it wasn’t me. But you,
You had. You loved it, lived it
Regularly. It was a childhood dream.
However you had missed your chance,
Apparently; “You have to start when you’re young”.
The opportunity had departed
Like a missed train. No second chances.
I remember that night because
It was the first time I found a bad evening
After weeks emulating honeymoons.
We had left the bedroom overturned,
Littered with arguments over nothing
That I can remember now,
But your barbs were like arrows
Craving the sight of strung-up martyrs.
Suddenly, you didn’t seem like you –
Or at least, not one that I recognised.
It wasn’t. The first of many.
A temporary distance between worlds.
Your face clamped shut to barricade you in;
Your voice hidden as a pearl.
You used to describe it as your mind
We arrived and entered the theatre
Quietly. It echoed like a church
Lacking crosses. Hushed voices.
It was already not going well.
We were always late and lost.
We searched for our places in the dark,
Repeating our seat numbers
Like the combination to a safe,
Relaying up and down the aisle
As though hunting for lost keys,
Until the right row finally appeared –
Somehow we had lost a letter
From the alphabet. We sat down.
The ballet teetered on the precipice.
The curtains quivered like lips
Of the Red Sea. We awaited Moses.
I tried to pry open the silence
But every time I spoke, I saw you
Shrugging off my words like air.
The lights dimmed further,
Then the music opened floodgates.
Dancers poured out from the wings,
Spilling onto the stage in a torrent
Of song-spun pirouettes and soaring jumps
As they blurred into more than humans.
Their black feathered costumes combining
As they undulated like returning birds;
Synchronised as though grown together
In the one womb. Each leap said words.
The room rumbled with awe.
The air swelled with approval.
The audience reinforced the grace.
Meanwhile, I didn’t understand a step –
Nothing more than childlike-mesmerised;
Open mouthed, as though held
By a magician’s watch.
Occasionally, I tried to whisper
Something meaningful, non-elevator.
No luck. Mostly, I blinked forwards.
Yet, you understood like it was home.
With eyes like sparked coals.
The dancers pulled you out from the depths
Of you, and lifted you up
To the surface on a tide of red velvet.
Your face beamed. Sunflower joy;
Turning to find the warm sun
Just as you couldn’t imagine
That it would ever reappear.
Eventually, the curtains closed
And I found your smile, resuscitated
Inside of some clothes
That you didn’t usually wear.