blackbirdonline journalSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Letters to Genevieve

Letter 1
You were old already when I met you. I was just six, and old is relative, but you were in your sixties then. Old enough to seem like a sage.

I was fascinated with your full head of white hair, the way it was piled high and held loosely with a tortoiseshell clip. The hair itself was a kind of majestic crown, but flowing, alive, moving, like the rest of you. No hair spray held your mane in place, just a thing of natural beauty, a shell from a place where animals lived uncaged, perhaps from the Galápagos or Canary Islands. At least that is what I like to believe.

Your body was compact, and your black leotard and tights showed the firm curves of muscular legs, arms, and back. Sometimes a little black skirt covered your hips, but other times your leotard was all you wore, the fabric as comfortable as a second skin. Your head floated above your shoulders, your neck long, your chin up, like an animal observing the landscape, eyes trained to seek out food or danger.

Your hands were wrinkled, veined, muscular. One banged loudly on a drum fashioned from tan hide and black wood. You held that instrument in one arm, in the crook of your elbow, while the other hand drummed loudly.

Move, the drum said. Move loudly, strongly, without reservation.

We were not ballerinas, in pink tutus dancing predetermined steps: plié, demi-plié, relevé.

We were warrior dancers, animal dancers, drum dancers, wild dancers, native dancers. We moved as if there were a fire in that room.

These are things I learned from you:

Ballerinas are not the only way to be beautiful.

You are never too old to dance.

We have muscles for a reason.

I am free to move about as I like. I am free to shout or sing or scream or bang as loudly as I like. Or I am free to stay quiet.

Slithering might be as good a way to get somewhere as walking. Who am I to judge a snake?

I danced on for years, into high school, after you stopped teaching. I had other teachers, I moved into jazz, acting, yoga. I let some of those teachers guide me. Some of their voices even echoed yours. Some of my movements were from muscle memory forged in those early years in your class.

But no teacher was like you.

Pittsburgh, 1994
The last time I saw Genevieve Jones, she was living alone in her majestic house on the corner of Wightman Street and Wilkins Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. I stood with my mother on the large wraparound porch that spring afternoon and lifted the heavy knocker. The neighborhood was in the heart of the city’s East End, where the Tudors, colonials, and craftsman-style homes had been built in the early twentieth century.

I had been one of twenty thousand children whom Genevieve had taught to dance over the course of her long career. While she taught many of them ballroom dancing, her specialty was modern dance. She had founded a private modern dance company—the first in the city—and had sponsored numerous dance groups and tours, promoting the art in any way that she could. By the time I took modern classes from her at a small studio out in the suburbs in the 1970s, I was among the last of her students before she retired from teaching.

My mother and I were surprised when her son came to answer the door that afternoon. He was a tall man, handsome, probably in his late fifties or early sixties; she was in her late eighties by then. He escorted us inside, and we began to wonder if something was wrong.

As a child, I had been in the house several times. In the middle of a grand center hall was a sweeping staircase, the centerpiece of many large homes in the East End of Pittsburgh built in the same period. But her home came with an unusual focal point: an old-fashioned, wrought iron elevator in the center hall, evoking machinery from an H.G. Wells story.

From her home, she had taught ballroom dancing from the 1940s to the ’60s to elementary school children from the nearby Wightman School. The neighborhood was predominantly Jewish then, and Genevieve would stand before the mixture of ten-to-twelve-year-old boys and girls and lead them through waltzes and rumbas. She stood erect, almost regal, despite being just 5’2”. She wore a simple dancer’s leotard on top but a long, circle skirt on the bottom that twirled out dramatically as she danced.

Once a term, she would have a formal dance for the children, where the boys would wear suits and the girls wore gowns and white gloves, and the affairs were as much a lesson in confidence around the opposite sex as they were a lesson in etiquette. “She was tiny, but she was the strongest person alive,” is how one former student remembers her from those classes.

I was in town for a few days, and my mother had set up the occasion to take Genevieve to lunch. As soon as her son escorted us into the large entryway, I remembered how I had dined with Genevieve a few years before, and she’d shown me a painting that hung in her formal dining room.

She had been working on one of her children’s books—she wrote four storybooks about movement for children—and the pages were laid out on the massive oak table that filled the room. She’d been showing me the illustrations when she’d stopped in midconversation to point at the imposing portrait of a man, shoulders and head only, staring down from a large wooden frame on the wall.

“I found him in a closet upstairs,” Genevieve said to me then. “I must have put him away years ago, and I have no idea who he is. But my son has grown up to look just like him, so I thought I should hang it up.”

Genevieve always embodied this strange mix of history and happenstance, high culture and self-determination, and, of course, making connections between things that no one else might have seen.

As John Allen II stood before us now, I tried to get a glimpse of the portrait again to see if she was right about the resemblance.

But her son wasn’t there by accident. He came to tell us that his mother’s memory was starting to slip. He explained he was trying to convince her to move out of her big, old house but that she would not listen to him.

I did not know what John Allen II did for a living—if he was an industrialist like his father or an artist like his mother—but it didn’t really matter. He would not be able to persuade Genevieve to do anything she did not want to do; we all knew that.

So my mother and I stood there nodding, agreeing that there was little to be done about it. And she came in, looking as vibrant as ever. She was dressed in a trim tweed suit with a colorful scarf tied at her neck.

We had lunch at a nearby restaurant, a place I had actually waitressed at one summer when I was in college, and enjoyed a conversation about her favorite subject: dance. Genevieve had once told a reporter that she always wrote dance with a capital D—“like God”—because it held that much import for her. It was the unifying force in her life and gave meaning in a nearly religious way.

I had been one of Genevieve’s last students, and although I was not an especially gifted or talented dancer, her teaching had a profound effect on me. When I bumped into her in my early twenties at a public concert, she quickly took me back under her wing, inviting me to dine at her house, to concerts and other events.

She came to my wedding, and we kept up a friendship. She had many friendships with young dancers and artists, and her belief in their spirits, their individuality, their capabilities seemed to animate almost her whole being.

Our luncheon was punctuated with the occasional question: if we had already ordered, if we had already been served, if we had already eaten. My mother deftly deflected each question with a smile and a simple yes and moved the subject back to dance or music or the arts, but I was a bit shaken by Genevieve’s vulnerability. More than seeing her decline, I watched her observe her own fragility, and that is what undid me. When she asked, tentatively, “Have we ordered yet?” her eyes held a kind of hesitance I had never seen before.

Letter 2
These are the things you need to know about my daughter, who is six. She loves to create make-believe stories and games with her stuffed animals. Pink Bear is usually the heroine because she is smarter and braver than the other animals. But sometimes Pink Bear will not listen to reason or her parents or her older sister. Sometimes she is stubborn and disobedient. Other times she is simply brave and clever, and she rescues her friends from difficult situations like lava pits or dark caves with bats.

You would love my daughter, in all her quirkiness and bravery and physical strength. You would tell her to move, to jump, to listen to sounds, and to imagine.

My daughter loves to run; she is very fast, faster than almost everyone in her class. She wants to run track, we have pretend practices: she beats the imaginary friends like Dora and Goofy. She beats me too.

And if I am in flip-flops, she beats me fair and square. She is amazing, too, on the monkey bars, all muscle and sinew, grasping and swinging. Her timing and coordination can inspire gasps from other parents. She climbs up the fireman pole with the soles of her feet turned in, flat against it, a strange yoga-like pose, until she is up at the top.

I have asked her if she wants to try dance class, but she shakes her head no.

I want to run, she says.

You tell me not to force her. Let her be, I hear you say.

Pittsburgh, 1906
Genevieve Jones was born on the north side of Pittsburgh, about the same time that modern dance was emerging as an art form.

In the 1880s and 1890s, Russian ballerinas had toured throughout the US and had launched an interest in dance, an art form that had been developing in Europe under the patronage of royals and states. In the US, however, there was no sponsorship of dance by patrons or the government, so women interested in movement and tableaux were free to invent their own art forms.

Vaudeville emerged near the end of the nineteenth century, and among the show girls performing in the reviews were cloggers and “skirt dancers.” The traveling ballets of Europe also hired local girls to fill in the background of the tableaux, but often they had no formal dance training.

By the early twentieth century, a few dance studios had been formed in New York City. New York’s Metropolitan Opera founded its ballet school in 1909 to train dancers to perform in the background of the operas, and some European ballerinas had remained in the US to teach American girls the art form.

But modern dance had another influence—that of the all-natural and health movements of the second half of the nineteenth century. These quasi-religious, spiritual movements incorporated exercise, movement, and all-natural foods with the rejection of the binding clothing of the traditional Victorian woman. The dress reform movement of that period sought to free women from the corset a century before the bra burners of the modern feminist movement.

The most famous founders of modern dance—Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis—had started as ballet corps girls performing with these traveling companies. These spectacles often involved reenacting tableaux from history, and, like a Greek chorus, the ballet dancers filled in the holes in the background.

These pioneers, however, saw their performances as a chance to liberate themselves and their art from traditional bias and expectations. Both Duncan and St. Denis struck out on their own, forming their own companies and choreographing their own works.

They were inspired by nature—and by the independence and physical strength of pioneer women—to embody a kind of wild individuality, which they immediately put on display.

Ruth St. Denis’s mother had been a physician trained in all-natural healing and movement arts, and her daughter was raised to be her best vehicle to deliver this message of health reform.

Duncan was born in San Francisco in 1877 and performed as a chorus girl before educating herself in ancient rituals of dance and nature. She traveled to Europe as a young woman and dabbled in the philosophies of Freud, Nietzsche, and others seeking to liberate Europe from the restrictions of old ways of thinking. Dance was liberation to her, and she used Greek themes and ancient rituals as inspiration to unshackle her from the growing industrialization and mechanization of modern society.

In 1905, a reviewer said of Duncan: “What mattered in Isadora’s Hellenic dances . . . was not the Greek themes or gauzy costumes but the uninhibited vitality, the sense of a glorious nakedness.”

Letter 3
I am just like you. My head floats on my neck, up and away from my body, my chin up, my shoulders down. I walk slowly, toes pointed, arms out, the way I have practiced in your class.

You stand to the side, observing us but not directing us. I am seven or eight, and we have reached the end of the class. This is a performance of sorts, a movement meant for others to see. I am displaying myself with a self-assurance that is unusual for me. Now I am a queen, not just a girl. I am on display. My regal bearing comes through my neck and head and shoulders. You have taught me to say with my body: Look at me, you will see something interesting, with my motion, with my body.

You have shown us life is full of adventure and to embrace it, whether it is walking on the stage, head held high, or traveling to a remote place. To engage with life, to be public about that engagement, despite fears of failure or rejection, that is what I am learning from you.

Performance may be the wrong word for what we are doing on this day. Sharing may be better. For while we students are on display, there is no stage. We are in a room with our parents and friends sitting on chairs in a circle around us. This may be a large conference room in an office park, our parents in those deep conference-room chairs balanced on wheels.

You are allowing us to show off, but not to be performers. As always, you strive for an authenticity, for naturalness, for the thing in itself. A recital of the traditional kind puts a barrier between performer and audience, the stage as the thing that separates us. There is no proscenium here, just an inclusive circle, which keeps us safe inside.

Now I am rolling across the open space, somersault after somersault, in a choreography of playfulness, something you have drawn out of me over the course of our class. My friends jump around me as I roll. They are leaping sky-high, and I am spinning under them. My spine is a wheel, meeting the nylon carpet with the smooth assurance of rubber on cement.

Then we go wild, becoming animals: tigers, antelope, gorillas, snakes. I slither across the floor, and I wonder if my parents are surprised by how quickly I can travel without arms or legs. We all feel the jungle close in on us, vines hanging, birds calling, humidity building. We are far from our parents in their office chairs.

New Jersey, 2014
I often tell my daughter the same story at night. It begins with a small girl spilling gerbil food in her closet. It is an accident; the bag tips over, and the seeds are laid out on the carpet.

Water is involved, and soon a jungle begins to grow in the closet. The girl wakes up, hears a jaguar in the jungle, and must investigate.

She goes into the closet, finding her way through the jungle. She helps a lost bird, rests by a river, but always hears the jaguar. Finally, she meets and tames the wildcat.

The family discovers she is missing, and her parents call into the jungle. But they have no voice here. They call and call, but she cannot hear them.

Only the sound of her two older brothers’ voices can bring her back. They search for her, and their voices bring her back to them.

But when she returns, they are surprised. She is no longer their little sister. She has grown big in the jungle—bigger than they are. For them, only a few minutes have passed, but for her it has been years.

She takes her place as the oldest in the family now, but no one seems to mind. In fact, it seems completely natural.

New York, 2011
I am in a summer writing workshop. It is a one-week session, and my dear friend is with me, and we are learning to be children’s book authors. The professor is a woman with flowing white hair who wears a long dress covered with stars and moons. She is a famous poet, as well as a children’s author, and she casts a magical, somewhat ethereal cloud about her. We are shy around her, the way you might be around a unicorn or other mythic creature in your presence.

We begin our class with group storytelling—a word or a sentence that we build on as the tale is passed from person to person, as if we are telling stories around that ancient fire.

One day she brings in a small handmade purse filled with objects—a wooden animal, a charm, a piece of metal—and one by one we pass the bag around, and we each pull an object from the purse and begin to weave a fairy tale about the bag, the objects, and the person they belong to. I am happy to draw out a wooden giraffe, and my mind drifts down the story’s little alleyway as if I am on a lazy stroll.

The professor tells us that writing a children’s book is like this. For homework, she suggests we each descend into our basements at night and look through storage containers or garbage or recycling bins to find discarded things—old towels, empty shoe boxes, springs, or soda cans—and says we should use our hands to make something from them. Using our hands—not pens and paper, not words and pictures, just trash and our hands—to create something new. And do not be concerned about what comes of it, she says. This thing has no useful value. It is just play. Do not bring it in the next day, do not even show it to anyone or tell anyone about it. It is only for ourselves.

I leave class that day with a buzzing in my head, as if I have eaten some strange food. I am both thrilled and enraged by her words, by the bubble of creativity and imagination she is suspending over us, and which she wishes to extend outside this room of writers. I am thrilled because I immediately recognize this world for what it is, the pure pleasure and satisfaction of creating something new, creating anything, for no purpose. Or perhaps it is for an unknown purpose, an artwork that will not have its story told for weeks or years.

But my thrill is tempered, because I no longer have complete faith that this kind of play is worthy in itself. I recently left a job of fifteen years as a newspaper journalist. I left because it became impossible for me to keep working in a place with shrinking resources and more demands. And in a world where fewer and fewer people are willing to pay even a dollar for cartoons and photographs and words and ideas, I am quite uncertain what is of value.

Before I left, my boss at the paper, a clever and hardworking man, told me, “We make a really good buggy whip. Too bad no one wants them anymore.”

And because people aren’t willing to pay for it—even just a bit of change—the work became more like labor; this was the sad truth. And now I am wondering how I will live my life, as a person, as a writer and editor. It seems insane enough to think I could become a children’s book author, that I could imagine a world that pays me for the thing I do on a daily basis—making up stories for kids—that is part of my existence as a parent, and that this act will cover the heating bill, the braces and eyeglasses and trips to the bowling alley for someone’s tenth birthday. I refuse to hope that it is even possible.

Letter 4
You were always Genevieve Jones, never Ms. Jones or Mrs. Jones. I never called you anything else. Long before Ms. magazine or the feminist era I grew up in, you chose to keep your own name when you married.

Your parents took you to see Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova at the old Nixon Theater in downtown Pittsburgh when you were a girl.

Described at the time it was built in 1903 as the world’s most perfect playhouse, that theater dominated the downtown cultural scene for a half century. Mae West and the Ziegfeld Follies were among the acts to grace its stage.

But that one performance by Pavlova is the reason you became a dancer. A night out became the inspiration for a lifetime cause.

I can sit in my kitchen now, eighty-plus years after Pavlova’s death, and see her dance on YouTube, her Dying Swan, choreographed to Camille Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals.

What did you feel when you saw her long arms fluttering like wings, muscular legs stretching from hip bone all the way down to where the tip meets the earth on pointe? How did you respond to Pavlova’s deep backbend of near-death and her final collapse into motionlessness? Despite being digitized and streamed, the dancer’s passion can be felt through the screen nearly a century later.

How did that launch a passion in you? How did you retain that passion through depression, war, peace, marriage, widowhood, breast cancer, motherhood?

In the world you were born into, young ladies did not dance, at least not publicly. But you did.

Wisconsin, 1920s
The push for progressive education took root in the early twentieth century. Reformers like John Dewey and William James theorized that the best ways to help a child develop fully was to allow him autonomy in developing his natural talents and interests. Much like dress reformers, who wanted to sweep aside the corsets and stays entrapping Victorian women, these reformers wanted to release children from restrictive nineteenth century ideas of molding children into a uniform type. And these reformers thought that education could be used for social progress and the betterment of society.

Dewey’s contention that education had a clear role in establishing and supporting democracy was embraced by dance educators, who were already steeped in the ideas expressed by Duncan and St. Denis that natural movement could liberate society.

Among the leaders in dance education in the early twentieth century heavily influenced by Dewey and the other progressives was Margaret H’Doubler, founder of the second dance education program at an American university. (The first was at Columbia Teachers College in New York, a center of the progressive education movement.).

H’Doubler launched her new program at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1917, and by 1926 the university was offering a major in dance education. When Genevieve Jones enrolled there in the mid-1920s, the school was already becoming the most important center for the development of educational dance in the nation, led by H’Doubler, who continued teaching there for forty years.

H’Doubler’s method of dance education included a systematic teaching of movement. She embraced the optimism and self-confidence of the progressive movement, with the sense that her methods could improve the individual student and even transform society. Described by her students as a woman of vision and zeal and as a person of electric energy, H’Doubler was known for bringing joy out of her students as well.

At Wisconsin, the ideals of Isadora Duncan—self-expression, fearlessness, an embrace of a natural approach to learning—were reproduced and disseminated on a wide scale by the systematic training of teachers with these values.

Letter 5
“Rock, Sarah, 6.”

These are the words beneath the picture on page 151 of your book Seeds of Movement, published in 1972 by Volkwein’s Music Co.

The miracle of Amazon has delivered this book to my door forty years after it was published and fifteen years after your death.

The illustration consists of simple curving red lines drawn over and over across the page. The semicircles are my attempt to show rocking, the thing itself. There are no rocking chairs or rocking boats or rocking cradles. I am not showing things that rock, I am showing motion. This is the essence of things that you coaxed from me.

In making this drawing, I am sprawled out on the linoleum floor of the dance studio, my black leotard picking up the dusty bits that have been left by the dancers’ feet. My crayon repeats over and over the same movement, as if my arm is becoming the very thing I am trying to depict.

We bring our work to you and return our crayons to a bin. You neither praise nor criticize our drawings, accepting each thing for what it is.

And then we are all moving, we are acting out the motions we have drawn. Rocking, rolling, tumbling, twisting.

I reach behind me and grasp my feet. My arms are straight, my back is curved like a bow, and my feet point toward my head. And I rock back and forth on my belly, as if I am nothing but a curve, a semicircle. I do not feel as if I am stretching or exercising or trying to accomplish something. I am just rocking, that thing in itself.

Then my head is up, rising from my shoulders and the deep curve of my back, as if I am a turtle rising out of its shell, defying gravity and my own form to see beyond my normal view.

And from your book, I now learn the things that you were teaching us all those years ago:

One should constantly remember that each child, no matter how young or old he is, should be the measure of all that he is asked to do and his own emotional and social level the measure of the way he is asked to do it. Movement experience should be pleasurable, and it will be if it is presented in a way the child understands and in a manner that appeals to him.

Unforced, spontaneous movement is the dance of the childhood. It is the only dance through which a child grows in grace according to the true nature of his being.

New Jersey, 2014
My daughter does not like bats or spiders. She will leave a room if a bug appears nearby. Or she may scream. When she was two or three, she was afraid of wolves. She would wake up at night and wonder if they were waiting outside her window. Now she is older, and she is concerned about tornadoes and sharks. She wants to read books about these dangers. She likes to look in the mouth of the great white and count the innumerable teeth.

When we went to Cape Cod, I had to hide the newspapers. A bumper crop of seals had brought the great whites close to shore. The photographs were enough; it did not matter that she was too young to read.

She has an issue with her vision—low vision, they call it—and so she sometimes wears glasses and needs extra help seeing things, like using a magnifying glass for her schoolwork. She must lean in close to the computer to watch a movie.

She has heard the term legally blind; it has been spoken when she was in earshot. She has said to me, too, at times in anger, “I’m not blind, you know. Blind is that girl who can’t see and can’t speak, and they have to spell everything out in letters in her hand. Now that girl is blind!”

I don’t know who told her about Helen Keller, or why they were speaking of her. Was it a story at library time? Was it someone trying to inspire the children—look what can be overcome? Was it someone trying to inspire her?

I am not a person to teach by the examples of others, holding up their afflictions and their bravery before my children. I am all for inspiration, but not at another’s expense. Like when the kindergarten teacher told me what a pleasure it was to have my daughter in her class because it gave the other children a chance to learn empathy.

How can I explain the fierceness, the jaguar-like force, inside my running, arm swinging girl? How can I feed that flame, keep her spunky and self-assured? How can I do that, knowing I am not sure how to maintain it in myself?

Pittsburgh, 1930s
Pittsburgh was a smoky, industrial city with steel mills lining all three rivers. Coke plants, sheet metal plants, and other ancillary businesses filled in the valleys in the region between the massive steel mills. The Depression hit the region hard, as well, with production slowing at all the plants and long unemployment lines in the downtown.

Against this unlikely backdrop, Genevieve Jones founded her own dance company and performed in spaces around the city throughout the decade. She also brought in dance companies from New York, often financing their performances herself or with the help of her wealthy husband. Martha Graham, Erick Hawkins, Merce Cunningham, and José Limón were among performers she sponsored.

Her first show by Martha Graham was booked at the two thousand–seat Heinz Hall downtown, but Genevieve only sold five hundred tickets. Never discouraged, she sought backing from her friends, family, and acquaintances. With an entrepreneurial zeal, she would call in favors among her connections and say, “I think your name needs to be among the supporters of this event.”

When that floundered, she would raise funds from those closest to her. Her husband and her mother were among her biggest supporters.

And she did not shy from performing herself. Her own dance company performed around the city during the Depression, with one review in the Pittsburgh Press in 1939 praising her for “flair for combining various forms of differing idioms and her courage in giving vent to their expression in a manner that at times exceeds the boundaries of the conventional.”

Letter 6
Your home on the corner of Wightman and Wilkins is still there, but you are gone. A young woman devoted to you had volunteered to care for you in your home until it was no longer possible. Until you no longer knew where you were.

She loved you, as many of us did, for the remarkable things you gave to us and inspired in us. One of your closest friends, who benefited from your wisdom and counseling through her years as a parent and a teacher, calls your influence on her and her three daughters more than mysterious. It is baffling, she says.

You were buried in the winter of 1998 on your son’s farm in Saxonburg, outside the city. I have been told that the land your son raises cattle on was given to your ancestors for their service in the American Revolution. Some places, like Saxonburg, do not change much, despite everything.

The rest of the city from your youth has been transformed, however. The steel mills that lined the three rivers are all gone. The Homestead Works, which once produced one-third of the steel in the US per day and was the scene of a famous battle between Henry Clay Frick’s Pinkertons and steelworkers, has been razed. A shopping complex and water park stand where eleven open-hearth furnaces worked around the clock seven days per week.

Likewise, the progressive education movement has fallen out of favor, with the push for standardized testing and accountability taking over schools. Teaching of the arts has been abandoned in many states and school districts, as well, as they have become considered an unsustainable luxury.

We are told that we are competing in a global economy, with China and India and Brazil fighting for a bigger share of the world’s limited economic prosperity. There is little time to dance or draw, unless we want to fall behind. There is little time for reading the news or flipping through the funny pages, either.

You would be glad to know, Pennsylvania has resisted the tide. Its department of education still mandates that all students K–12 be given a rounded arts education, including dance. “Dance Education is a kinesthetic art form that satisfies the human need to respond to life experiences through movement of the physical being,” the state says. I wonder if the person who wrote those words was one of your students too.

For me, working at a newspaper is the closest I may ever come to being part of a dance company, with the choreography of tasks ending in a production delivered on doorsteps each morning. I followed the footsteps laid out by others: reporting, writing, page layout, editing, imaging, proof, print.

I was a single actor but moving in sync with those around me, writing headlines for the front page, digging through newswires for photographs. Our work was as temporary as any movement witnessed on a stage in 1938. Seen and then gone. Lining birdcages or wrapping fish the next day, as the old newshounds would say. And the newspaper workers have been displaced like the men who once manned the Bessemer furnaces generations ago.

I wonder if this world will see their likes again. I wonder if I will.

Then I think of my daughter and her gifts for imaginative games, her enthusiasm for movement of all kinds, her laughter at any kind of playfulness.

And I begin to think I do not have to work so hard. I do not have to worry so much about the future. I do not have to dwell on what has been lost.

I just have to light a fire and dance around it. I have to descend into the basement and find discarded objects to create something new.

The dancers who dreamed of starting a revolution with their steps might be forgotten now under snowdrifts and fallen leaves. But the wispy trails of their endeavors can still be followed. The drum beat of the old sages can still be heard. I can move forward like a warrior, like a jaguar, like a slithering snake. I remember how.  

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