The Artist – by William Carlos Williams

Sometimes a poem can create unintended images for a reader, decades after it is written. When William Carlos Williams died, Laurence Tureaud was only 11 years old. I’m not sure it is possible to read the following poem, though, without Mr. Tureaud appearing in my mind.

Mr T.
                           in a soiled undershirt
his hair standing out
           on all sides
                           stood on his toes
heels together
           arms gracefully
                           for the moment

curled above his head.
           Then he whirled about
into the air
           and with an entrechat
                           perfectly achieved
completed the figure.
           My mother
                           taken by surprise
where she sat
           in her invalid's chair
                           was left speechless.
Bravo! she cried at last
           and clapped her hands.
                           The man's wife
came from the kitchen:
           What goes on here? she said.
                           But the show was over.

I’m not sure when WCW wrote this, but it can be found here, here, and here (as well as in The Rattle Bag)

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