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 the chance;
Apparently “You have to start when you’re young”.
The opportunity had departed
Like a missed train. No second chances.
But I remember that night because
It was the first time I found a bad evening.
We had left the bedroom overturned,
Littered with arguments over nothing,
But your barbs were like arrows
Craving the sight of a Sebastian.
Suddenly you didn’t seem like you –
Or at least, not one that I knew.
It wasn’t. The first of many.
A temporary distance.
Your face clamped shut to barricade you in:
Your voice hidden as a pearl.
You described it as your mind becoming
We arrived and entered the theatre
Quietly. It echoed like a church
Without the 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 –
We had somehow 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 a Moses.
I tried to pry open the silence
But every time I spoke, I saw you
Shrug away my words
Like they were only air.
The lights dimmed further.
The music opened floodgates.
Dancers poured out from the wings,
Spilling onto the stage in a torrent
Of song-spun pirouettes, soaring jumps,
Blurring into more than humans.
Their black feathered costumes combining
And undulating like returning birds.
The room rumbled with awe.
The air swelled with approval.
The audience reinforced grace.
And I didn’t understand a thing –
Nothing more than childlike-mesmerised;
Open mouthed, as though held
By a magician’s watch.
Occasionally I tried to whisper
Something meaningful, non-elevator.
Mostly I blinked forwards.
You understood like it was home.
Eyes like sparked coals,
The dancers pulled you out from your depths
And lifted you up like one of them
To the surface on the tide of red velvet.
Your face beamed; sunflower joy;
Turning to find the 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 don’t usually wear.