En Croix

S. Bennett


I was the first to see
the goldfish, still swimming
in their restricted motion.

Orange bits of fin,
puffs of fish flesh, bloated and
recently fed, it seemed.

And none were dead.

I was the first to see
the final positioning:
the naked chest, distended abdomen,
bared feet, sinewy arms—en croix.

That angular, beautiful face
too pretty for a man,
set in its final grimace
which was not a grimace,
but a resolve.

Right palm up, left palm down,
as if for Tantric breathing;
legs together, slightly arqués.

Curled toes on the delicate feet
of this danseur noble
(“excelling in the Russian style"),
as if this were all
part of a choreography.

—Including the empty Temazepam bottle
without a cap, erect
on the marbled coffee table.

He always wanted to be a choreographer,
to carry a stick, to stomp and pound the floor;
to consider decor, counterpoint, juxtaposition
of the Event.

He told me so.                                                                                        

And now, on the Persian rug
with its stained interweaving of Alborak,
the mythical, milk-white horse with wings
and a peacock's tale,

In death, constituting
dancer, choreographer, and final performance
on a two-dimensional stage,
to be viewed only from above.

Am I callous to find this overly self-conscious,
out of countenance,
like a principal in Swan Lake
who insists on watching himself in the mirror
instead of facing downstage?

Am I shamelessly unmoved
by the positioning?
Not perfect—arms en bas, yet
cruciform, nonetheless.

Have I not applauded loud enough?
This final curtain call
in jeans too tight,
bulging at the crotch with no hope of release.

—Certainly all this for my benefit.
Who else has a
key to his makeshift loft?

Yet there are other witnesses
in our terrestrial realm,
an ichythic presence behind the glass,
swirling round and round,
rising through bubbles of aeration;

Golden scales,
shimmering and reflecting,
flickering and augmenting
tiny bodies
which seem to multiply
in the waning afternoon.


S. Bennett studied Classical Ballet in California and Connecticut, and studied Creative Writing at Columbia University and the University of Southern California.  “En Croix” is part of a collection-in-progress of ballet-themed poetry, entitled ANTONIA'S ARABESQUE. Other poems from ANTONIA'S ARABESQUE appear in Wisconsin Review, Oxford Magazine, and Hawaii Pacific Review.   S. Bennett’s work has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and also appears in Connecticut Review, George Washington Review, Indiana Review, Paris Transcontinental (France), and Alécart (Romania).