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Antalian Ballet

In Antalia, by the blue and white tipped bay
where the gods of snow mountains look down
on the slow beat of his diesel motor
a single fisherman casts his nets into the dawn


On our way to pristine morning dip in heated
hotel pool, passing by floor-to-ceiling convention
hall doors, a chink of music escapes between
the fluted columns and we peep in on a matronly
diva beaming over her shoulder at us

she pumps out a rubato version of Scott Joplin ragtime

as I, camera raised, snap her, she laughs in broken English
’Why photograph an old piano player?
look at them’ —and we do


Spread across the polished wooden floorboards
a group of figures graceful as green sticks, casual in
multicolored skin-tight briefs, leotards and vests
snap and stretch into a morning limbering up session
of the Turkish National Ballet and we gasp

at the close-up flat-breasted tiny-buttocked

serious glowing grace of these tall adolescents

their nation’s pride


As I stand by the doorway snapping
like a crazy puppet, head into Tchaikovsky,
Coppelia, Stravinsky and on and up to the gray
white banks of clouds that sing down
over the shoulders of the bay, a grinning Pan
approaches us broad shouldered and with
a bow and a flourish takes the camera
and disappears deep into the midst of the dancers

The Nikon, my extension limb, breathes them in:
their perspiration, camaraderie, the thrusting
ambitions of their private competition with each other
and the world, bending backwards to their families:
mothers crouched over simple kitchen meals, knives cutting
and tightening tufts of kilm rugs or scything clumps of garlic
stalks in fields where new-born goats nimble and totter


And then he’s back, hands us this gleaming memento
of a special moment, we exchange email addresses,

smile across the gap between our ages, our cultures,

float lazily on our backs across the pool take in the music

of mountains, the dance of waves across the bay

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© Johnmichael Simon



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