an Allegory* in Which a Courtesan
Dancer Greets the New Year
dancer, Raven, was lost in thought as she shifted her gaze toward
a novice barefoot dancer whose name she could not remember.
Idly, she moved her fingers lightly over the tarnished metal object
in her hand.
The antique key was heavy and the acrid smell of age tainted its
Nevertheless, it fit into the court dancer’s palm as if it could
reform itself into any shape.
Perhaps, she thought, it guarded an undiscovered part of the life
am not past caring for all that has been entrusted to me.
Disappointment, dissipation, delay, or even dismay will not alter
the story that I have sewn together as my tattered relic,
preserving all essence within its case of beveled glass.”
Examining the ornate key, her downcast eyes slid over its shapes
like the wild eyes of an untamed beast.
Again, and yet again, she turned it over slowly in her night visions.
moved her arms slowly upward from deep inside her body,
silken turns spiraling within her dance sounds, too.
Traversing along the shear edge of nightfall,
in soft threads of gold,
had delivered her to the place where first she had re-discovered
her forgotten key.
slightly against some unseen impediment,
she slipped her hair over her right shoulder,
smoothly rolling her chin across her collarbone with her eyes
As that movement transformed itself into an ascent,
her head dropped back, opening her throat to the music within,
and her eyelids, too, began to open.
that moment, the key had revealed itself!
It had lain among the curled and dead leaves of fall.
Once crisp and brown,
leaves of sheet music and poetry had decayed and snapped apart,
revealing the glint of metal beneath their prolonged protection.
hope drew her forward,
her fingers grasping the cold object without note.
She folded the gold dance dress softly against her knees,
And strains of music for her dance resumed the main coda of her
life with a renewed strength.
her pulse quickened as her spirit continued to wash over familiar
music moved the dancer,
but her dance changed the music,
forming new meanings.
key is the only one I have sought,” she mused,
fearfully certain that finality and fealty in this lifetime,
were to continue narrowly escaping her grasp.
I shall continue this one dance,
as long as I can convince my musicians to play for me,” she promised
“I will form dreams from movement,
textures from sounds,
and convoluted, intricate passages of time
into a latticework not easily forgotten.
will lace these colorful threads together as delicately as I am
weaving them under, over, and around in the movements of my soul
until they become part of the bodice of my dancing dress.
They will cover my heart with warmth, safety, and joy,” she assured
herself against a shivering resolve.
Raven had learned:
is the element, from which one’s life dance must form,
into a creation that can never be stolen, lost, or defeated.
lengthy strands of silken hair around the nape of her neck,
and her shoulders began to rise and fall with the waves of a seductive
song that had begun to escape her throat.
grasped the key ever more tightly in her grip,
knowing that when she and the song ceased to weave,
the key would fit whatever lock existed there.
felt herself open into freeform.
Her hand rose in ritual,
her song invoking the heavy key concealed in her palm.
As her thumb pressed firmly against its dented metal shaft,
the key’s curved metal bit into the lifeline traversing her palm.
youth, foretold by the dark Moroccan who read her palm, this story:
had recited a rhyme of three,
and three once again.
lit an ancient pathway, along which she, again alone, would dance.
long-sought key now dangled freely from the small finger of her
Darker grew days of the closing year,
and they shortened, too,
but the dancer’s pathway shown in the gray-green glow that seeped
from the crevasses of all her dreams and invocations.
extended an open hand, dangling her precious key into darkness.
joys that have never before been
will weave your new bodice this New Year!” promised her heart,
…and its innocent
clarity caused her to curve her lips upward,
Trusting, she stepped forward, toward its Promise.
is an allegory?
2003 Princeton University Dictionary
n 1: a short moral story (often with animal
characters) [syn: fable, parable, apologue] 2: a visible symbol
representing an abstract idea [syn: emblem] 3: an expressive
style that uses fictional characters and events to
describe some subject by suggestive resemblances; an extended
expressive allegory, Najia chooses to use symbolism and metaphor
embodied in a fictional dancer, rather than a parable, fable,
or moralistic story, in order to describe her abstract ideas about
dance, thereby wishing all dancers a Happy New Year in 2006. Is
there a moral for all dancers contained in these images? Najia
says, “No comment; let the allegory speak for itself.”]
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Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
12-16-04 Raven of the
Night: Dancer’s Allegory for New Year’s Eve 2005
by Najia Marlyz
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