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The Patricia and Emmett Robinson Prize, Spring 2009
Michael Hugh Lythgoe
The Mah Jongg Ladies Attend the Ballet

St. Petersburg’s ballet in town:
Romeo & Juliet In Queen Mab’s world of Russian dreams.
They recline on swings. Dancers roll in tights
Revolving in Prokofiev’s musical water wheels.

Capulets, Montague’s friends, soloists hide
Beneath undulating sheets of smoky waves.
See the ballerina’s arabesque; all eyes
On Romeo’s white tights splaying a full purse.

Queen Mab plays with a rapier, Life and Death
Balance on the tip. Merriment & revelry pass.
Mercutio is mortally wounded, Juliet rejects Paris.
Romeo avenges the death of his friend, pierces

Tybalt in battle. Exiled to a spirit world, Juliet
Falls into a drugged sleep; Mab’s kiss kills
The Prince; Juliet—awakened—runs the rapier
Through her own breast to die like her lover.

The ladies leave the bodies sinuously interlocked,
Envisioning flesh-toned skin-tight Victoria’s secrets,
The camel-toes at the splits, thighs all muscles,
Romeo’s cod-piece, his tightly packed buttocks

Athletic, a lover to remember. Build a wall of cracks,
Bams, dragon’s heat in Mah Jongg tiles. The East
Wind giggles. No Russians jiggled last night; flesh
Firm, ballerinas starving for hors d’oeuvres.

©2009 Michael Hugh Lythgoe