Books by Diane Frank

Canon for Bears and Ponderosa Pines


            For Margalit Oved, Yemenite dancer and choreographer

            "The duende surges up from the soles of the feet...
            It is not a matter of ability but of real, live form;
            of blood; of ancient culture."
            —Federico Garcia Lorca, Theory and Function of the Duende

The younger dancer didn’t have what she did —
the swaying of eucalyptus leaves in her fingers,
the taste of old world salt on her breath.
Margalit was like the flamenco dancer
with fire in her throat,
hibiscus on her lips,
belly swaying in the rhythm of the sea.

Yes, I know. . .
The violist who stopped performing
before the arc of his vibrato
passed its prime. The french horn player
who eased himself out of the opera
while his lips still had the ability to kiss his wife.
The ballerina who set up a dance academy
after her swan song.

Margalit said her protege
could execute subtle moves that her aging body
did not have the agility to perform,
but this is what I saw —
a young tree with hollow branches,
the flaming red and burnt umber
of the change of season
absent from her pallet of painting oils.
Her movements lithe but lacking duende,
too much sunshine in her hands.

I wanted to feel
the spice of black olives in a Yemenite market,
the cucumbers and tomatoes,
the drum made from the recycled tin
that was filled with olive oil.
I wanted to feel the rhythm
of long boats pulling fish from the Mediterranean sea,
the nets of the fishermen.
I wanted to watch her veined and beautiful hands
gathering rosebuds from her mother’s garden,
brass bells dreaming on her ankles
with the memory of the land where she was born,
and the way her mother carried her across the desert
to the Promised Land.

— Diane Frank