Saturday, July 4, 2009

moving to a poem

the spirit likes to dress up
by Mary Oliver

The spirit
likes to dress up like this:
ten fingers
ten toes

shoulders, and all the rest
at night
in the black branches
in the morning

in the blue branches
of the world.
It could float of course
but would rather

plumb rough matter.
Airy and shapeless thing
it needs
the metaphor of the body

lime and appetite
the oceanic fluids
it needs the body's world

and imagination
and the dark hug of time
and tangibility

to be understood
to be more than pure light
that burns
where no one is

so it enters us
in the morning
shines from brute comfort
like a stitch of lightning

and at night
lights up the deep and wondrous
drowning of the body
like a star.

Our eurythmist instructor Ruth Buckman gave us this poem and taught us the eurythmic movements that expressed its essence. Ruth had first met our class of Year One students on Monday of this week. There were thirteen of us in the spacious hall with wood floors and high clerestory windows. A Yamaha baby grand sat quietly in the corner. We waited just a bit, fiddling with our eurythmy shoes (mine are black and I referred to them as ninja shoes).

Then Ruth burst into the room with copper rods, breaking the silence. With a swift fluid motion she placed the rods in a corner, said she needed to retrieve more items in her car, and just seconds later, as if she had never left, returned with a Longaberger basket with wooden balls nestled inside. Speaking in a hushed tone, she introduced herself, and making eye contact with each of us, asked us our names: Vittoria, Ashley, Lauren, Raymond, Elizabeth, Jo, Susan, Julie, Leslie, Rebecca, Erica, Rick, and Chelsey. She reflected on each name just for a moment and repeated each of our names again. From then on, even in the middle of explaining a complex movement, as she drifted in and out from her spirit zone to ours, she directed us, she called us, never not knowing who we were, as if she knew us like friends from childhood, or from a life previous.

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