The women were always dancers
for the Bolshoi. Lean and lithe,
with enormous eyes and flaring
tempers, hard everywhere their lovers
were soft. There was no cooking,
no cleaning, not even any afternoons.

The men were always vast
with power, shielded by wealth
and moustaches, given to beef,
to raw spirits. There was always
snow, always wind whistling through trees
and fog on every window in the room.

Once in a while shots rang out.
Once in a while the wife showed up,
sobbing against a lintel or great
with rage in the dark backstage.
Once in a while there was a brother
to worry about, consumptive, fierce-eyed.

It never ended well. Trains shrouded
in steam, a crisis on the front, blood.
Nothing but the sound of breath coming
and going in the stillness, the darkness.
A last flickering glance at an ebbing tide
as music rose and curtains closed.