Saturday, April 10, 2010

Carmen T. Bernier-Grand - Dancing Fingers

The following poem comes from Alicia Alonso: Prima Ballerina Assoluta, a biography due out in 2011, written by Carmen Bernier-Grand and being illustrated by Raúl Colón. Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso is blindfolded in the poem because she had just surgery for detached retinas. At that moment, doctors thought she wouldn’t be able to dance again. But she danced until she was seventy-five.

Dancing Fingers
Carmen T. Bernier-Grand

Blindfolded Alicia listens to the music of Giselle.
Her fingers are her feet, the bed sheet the stage.
“I see the theater curtain open. I absolutely see it.”
            Giselle is in love with another peasant, Loys.
Alicia’s fingers jump high—Giselle’s feet.
            Giselle learns that Loys is Prince Albrecht in disguise.
            As a peasant she cannot marry him. She becomes insane.
Alicia’s fingers move stiffly, horribly distorted.
            The earth shakes the day Giselle dies.
            That evening she becomes a Willi,
            a female spirit whose love is unfulfilled.
Alicia’s fingers jump high, but land silently as spirit feet.
            In the cold dawn the Willis rise from their graves
            to force Albrecht to dance until he dies of exhaustion.
Alicia’s fingers float softly.
            She doesn’t let the Willis touch him.
            Giselle’s devotion saves Albrecht from Death.
The golden damask curtain closes.
The theater almost falls with applause.
Alicia’s fingers take a bow.

© Carmen T. Bernier-Grand. All rights reserved.

Carmen T. Bernier-Grand has written biographies, tales from her native Puerto Rico (as an I-Can-Read book), a novel, and poetry, too. She also has, on her vibrant, fun website, one of my favorite ever answers to the question, "Why do you write?" Says Carmen - "Because I get grouchy if I don't." Yes! For more quotes and insight, I highly recommend a trip to Carmen's website and to this Cynthia Leitich Smith interview both.

Her poetry packs power, with wonderful images created by perfectly picked words (written in her second language, no less) which simply pull you into whatever's going on in the verse (fiction, non-fiction, comedy, drama, or I'm sure any mix of them all). I hope she continues to avoid being grouchy so that we can all read more from her... and I'm thrilled to have Carmen Bernier-Grand here today as part of 30 Poets/30 Days.

Yesterday, we had Ch-ch-ch-check, Please from Alan Katz. Tomorrow... I Love Being Me by Charles Waters! For more on 30 Poets/30 Days and ways to follow along, please click here.


tanita✿davis said...

That really is a gorgeous poem. I'm sort of traumatized by imagining eye surgery (!) but I love that even in the face of that blindness - that fear -- she could absolutely see. And believe she'd see again.


Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Wow. That really packs so much emotion into a tight space. Poetry is amazing, and Alicia Alonso's triumph - a blindfolded ballerina finding SOME way to still express her love of music and movement and story and rising above those physical challenges to dance until her old age - will stay with me for a long time. Thank you Carmen!

Anonymous said...

i like this poem tanita davis said "That is really gorgeous poem" I think the same

K-Sue said...

beautiful, beautiful