‘After Skye Gellmann’s "Snow"’, a Poem by Autumn Royal

Skye Gellmann during ‘Snow’. Photograph by Hayden Shepherd.

J. Patrick Lewis calls poetry ‘a circus for the brain’. After watching Skye Gellmann’s ‘Snow’, a circus performance at the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival, I found that the only way I could respond was through poetry. While my intentions no longer matter once the reader’s eyes balance down these lines, the poem attempts to offer a sense of what it was like to witness Gellmann’s stunning acrobatic performance. Just as contortion bends and flexes the body into unconventional forms, this poem endeavours to offer an alternative version of the traditional prose review.

‘Snow is what it does.’ — Frederick Seidel

quiet vibrations to prepare for snow
—falling—lax shoulders—a tapping
            we are all open
    before pressure—
            a wonder—in waiting—
                read instructions & unravel the day—
there’s a rustling—shredding
            paper—tear it from the walls—
they too are temporary like bodily
    combination—throw
        yourself into it—torn parchments moisten—
            on tongues—swallow for engagement
—don’t waste it in a drool—
    as an audience—we’re at uncertain distance—
            hands push
away—yet fingers gesture familiarity
    hope balances
            on bottle of Moët—cracks are only
    in the mind—the leaks may be drunken—
hold my hand—spin with me—naked—on a maroon bowling ball—
    stealing looks—
            thieving ground—let the bounce lift
                up into spaces—softer than paper—
        tap my head—nod with me—just as you promised
    in the advertisement—
you are groundless at heart—I told you so
            before you woke to laughter—behind tabloid-thin walls
—we’ll find out if we both enter the room
            together—shoes off—
        socks are ok—they’ll soften
the heaviness of the ending—
            acrobatics—nobody stands evenly—sexually explicit—
    or can the body just be—
            to the ones who still own one themselves—pants down
    —we open our mouths to the hanging pole—unwrapped
        —I’m not the only one watching—the roof—
            pyramidal desire—
our gaze is the base—Skye—for balance—
            rest upon our looks—like the snow you speak of—
        we’re here & watching you glide—jealous
    —cannot take photographs—balls of paper snow—
                melting—
            in your own time—this hold
        is not procedural—butcher’s paper—in palms—
            the sound of Skye’s steps over wooden floorboards—
    —don’t toe the line—jump the line—
            & fall over—softly—
                heavy gasps—coating the floor—slip
    tongues against trouble—mindfully—
the music in your thighs—grip
        against this sound— & treat yourself—
    whisper your cause—no knives and forks—
            there is no accuracy in review
        —green ear plugs— feet as hands—contort down the pole—
    ‘thank you—breath—that’s the piece’—

Autumn Royal is a poet and PhD candidate in Creative Writing at Deakin University. Autumn’s writing has appeared in publications such as Cordite Poetry Review, Rabbit Poetry Journal, Mascara Literary Review and TEXT Journal.