At six, her stance is
Like a professional’s”she waits her cue
Intensely and with no expression,
The youngest in the troupe of girls
Costumed alike in skirts that flare like bells
Embroidered with designs”
Abstracted tangled animals and geometric vines”
Drawn from the Book of Kells,
Hair done up in headdresses of artificial curls
To bounce in time to lively Irish dances,

But it’s the music of a Shaker hymn
When she takes her place
Alone on the plywood stage, candescent with such fierce
And concentrated joy
As no smile will pierce
And no trivial laughter can alloy,
Each swift and nimble limb
Inhabiting its quickness without haste,
As if she had only herself to please.
All gazes

Fix on her, not because,
Or not only because, she is a lovely, solemn elf,
Not that her eyes
Are just the shade of blue
Patterned on antique Delft
Or that cliché of cloudless skies
(Though bored through with the blackness of unfathomable Space),
And it is not her fearsome self-possession
Around her, tightly furled,

Rather the possession of her self
By a vaster power
Whose presence in this low room till this hour
Had been unknown to us
And momently amazes,
As the wide wind that breathes upon the world
Enlists the tossing of high-masted trees,
The bowing of the grass,
The shiver of a roadside flower,
So we may see it pass.

Articles by A. E. Stallings

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