Featured Poetry: “At the Degas Exhibit” by Gregory Fraserby Megan Sexton · April 24, 2013
As you all know, our double issue of Five Points Vol. 15, No. 1&2 is on sale now, and we’d like to give you a little preview of one of the poems you’ll find inside:
At the Degas Exhibit
by Gregory Fraser
The docent wends us to The Dance Class
and it all flits back: the studio downtown,
few bucks an hour, ragging off the finger
grease of toe-shoed cygnets, tutu-ed swans,
scudding hardwood and ignoring both
of me—spray of acne, high-top Keds.
I would clatter on the local after school
(weekends once the Christmas pageant neared),
my face at every stop floating outside
the window beside my seat—a mask
tried on by stars in movie ads, commuters
cooling heels for later cars. Then Windex,
buff, till six, waving hello, farewell,
from glass to glass, plié to pointe—my hand
emitting squeaks, eliding dainty prints and streaks.
In my knapsack: comics, Catcher, lunch
untouched. And never once did I happen on
the courage even to speak to one of those
sugar plums of Rittenhouse, Society Hill.
Degas’s girls, our guide informs, practice
attitudes, inspected by their master
(one Jules Perrot) propped on his staff.
Note the Parisian mothers daubed
on the wall in back. Yet I see only tights
that bear the stamp McDevitt Dance,
hear gripes about third position, giddy talk
of boys. And search the sides and corners
for my Old World counterpart—some
sponge-and-bucket kid from a ragged edge—
undersized, near-sighted, invisible to art.
Here’s a little more info on Gregory Fraser:
Fraser is the author of two poetry collections, Strange Pietà (Texas Tech, 2003) and Answering the Ruins (Northwestern, 2009). He is also the co-author, with Chad Davidson, of the workshop textbook Writing Poetry: Creative and Critical Approaches (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008) and the composition textbook Analyze Anything: A Guide to Critical Reading and Writing (Continuum, 2012). His poetry has appeared in journals including the Paris Review, the Southern Review, the Gettysburg Review, and Ploughshares. The recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Fraser serves as associate professor of English and creative writing at the University of West Georgia.
Purchase copies of Five Points here!