Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Lady in Sky

After having wasted my entire morning trying to write something new, I suddenly remembered something...

Mrs. Russell

Her head encased in braids and hats of tin—
Her cheeks—the cliffs of Dover, chalky white—
She swells enormously—becomes all chin—
My big Brunnhilde—though she died last night.

She might just be the first Canadian
To be invited by the Valkyries
For beer and pretzels at that shady inn
Lusty ladies lounge at in the skies.

I heard her first when I was seventeen.
I’m not sure if she sang it at the Met,
I picture her in Tosca—in that scene
Where Tosca
jumps down off the parapet—

Surrounded by a fluttering nightgown,
Beating passionately at her breast,
Until the house, until creation crashes down.
In Heaven she will be a huge success.


I really did meet
Anna Russell, back in 1991. It was at a library function at Boston University. She shook my hand and complimented me on my collection of Gilbert and Sullivan memorabilia. She seemed a very kind and friendly person. I had no idea she would show up in a poem 17 years later. I hope she doesn't take it amiss...

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