Queen Anne’s Lace

I first met Ann Danoff pirouetting by the Lake in Goldensbridge when she was 13 (I was 17). I was really taken by her Bohemian looks, her charisma, intelligence and talent. I fell in love with that 13 year old and that love has never abated. Over the fifty years since then Ann and I have had intermittent contact as she gracefully moved from being a dancer, to being a Tai Chi instructor, and finally (?) to being a physician. It was always very warm and gratifying for me to see her, even though we could never pull the trigger on coupling. I’m reminded of Leonard Cohen’s Sisters of Mercy: We weren’t lovers like that and besides it would still be alright. I’ve never performed the song. I wrote it so I could capture the few romantic moments we shared, and so I would always have someplace to go where I could be with her. It may be my best realized lyric insofar as it reflects so well my impressions of her. Still, listening to the song only underscores for me how unknowable this remarkable lady was and is, and evokes another lyric, this one mine from a different song and time: How can a poet talk of distance to a dancer.  And finally, the lines from this song: 

Ann moves her own way

There is no choreography

are taken verbatim from the program of a solo dance piece that I saw her perform ages ago. For me that sums it up.

 

Queen Anne’s Lace

Daily lured

Onto the forest floor

Fearing her gypsy lover

Will pass her way once more

 

Still she stays

Picking her wildflower bouquets

Bluebells and Scottish heather

Set off by Queen Anne’s lace

 

Spoke in the most peculiar style

Pirouetting all the while

If she talked she danced

Back in those first raggedy days

I was just amazed

The way she turned a phrase

 

Halfway done

She returns from where she’d come

God must be a dancer

Beating a toy tin drum

 

Clutching at space

Slowly slipping from her grace

Then caught in the fragile webwork

Of my Queen Anne’s lace

 

Dances in the most obsessive way

Shadows of repressive days

Permeate her moves

Dancing a prima donna part

Dismissing it as art

She puts on the Red Shoes

 

Desert in bloom

On this our stranded honeymoon

Flowers make liars of sunset

Rise fair camellia moon

 

Face to face

I’ve left my mask on just in case

Fearing my Russian tears

Would soil my Queen Anne’s lace

 

I will never know just where to stand

As her moves are never planned

She is the only one set free

I once heard a dancer say

Ann moves her own way

There is no choreography

 

Trying to get lost

Going under not across

Then stopped by the border trooper

For wearing an albatross

 

Queen Anne’s lace

Loosely fastened into place

Worn to divert my staring

Helplessly at her face

Queen Anne’s lace.