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Spring 2016

The Orphan Quadrille

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Lost arts of cochineal enamel and earthen bell foundry.
Shelling of the Parthenon, flooding of Sioux burials.
Let’s caper in memory of our mothers and fathers.
(Step and turn, step to me, darling)

Faith-based razing of Buddhas, Torahs, Ikons
To obey Clerics, Committees, Scholars, Inquisitions.
Lost art of snake-handling, of speaking in tongues.
(Turn to me, darling, skip to the trumpet)

Lost arts of the poor, the Barrio Gótico overwhelmed
By galleries and bars. Let’s rattle castanets to celebrate
A Thai restaurant and jazz club—we are not purists,
(Skip turn step, turn to the light)

Our ancient glittering eyes grieve gaily. Lost art of gay
Glitter, and of those school movies industries provided
When I was in the fifth grade: The Story of Paper,
(Children, turn, turn where I tell you)

Surprising Glass, Miracles of Petroleum. I worried our
Generation could never learn those industrial arts before
The adults died. “I know these kids—we can’t do it.”
(Skip, slip and slide to me, darling)

But we did! Let’s dance like the couple in clever fat-suits
Doing the Lindy Hop like it’s nineteen-twenty-seven. Jeté.
Dip. Double-time, stop-time. The Moonwalk, the Continental.
(Skip, skip, step to the light, turn to the side)

—Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky's new book of poems, At the Foundling Hospital, will be out in the fall.

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