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Paris to Frankfurt to Edinburgh – an accidental review of “Nixon in China” at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre)

Christmas, 1991
Bobigny Theatre, Paris

Paris is colder than I imagined.
Its bones might own crumhorns and battles,
But Paris is a woman,
An inner beauty, a gloss of pretty
Despite triumphant architectural odes
Paris is a feminine city.

Christmas Eve.

The cast of Nixon in China gather
The cool/warm glow of a hotel lobby
Drinks all around
While secret Santas stand within
They’re dressed down, I’m dressed up
Well, clothes have always been my skin.

There’s an intimacy in Christmas moments
Even here, but more a sense of value
Of participating in something
Not quite understood
Ovations may not be as they should
Nonetheless, we’re sure it is good. …

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it is hard to let go in the burning memory of senses

(the sense of memory is in the remembering of senses)

the sweet, tumbling despair over absence, if only an hour

the sense of love unafraid and laughing

love in morning touch, in evening touch

love whose sadnesses were saccharin sweet

the complicated math of happy≅(is)sad

of inescapable metaphors that cry

abandon’d dove’s nests and soprano voices

it is hard to sit in the travesty of changes

misunderstandings never unwound nor forgiven

that later contort and splay in tiny points of rage

It is hard to be replaced

It’s but a brittle…

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What once were other todays.
A woman, lithe past my body’s comprehension,
Standing square, yet in imperceptible motion,

Her face wears pride and delight
A moment within a moment,
A moment gone yet resonant.
Her friends wear smiles equally bright.

People were different then,
Or are we so changed?
So angry, so disarranged?
How and when?

The woman? My mother.

Dark brown hair cut to the shoulders,
A debutante’s smile
While absent of feminine wile.
Squarely feminine yet bolder.

She tried to teach me how,
The smile, of course
A woman’s natural resource
That Marilyn Monroe kitten gasp and wow. …


Stephanie Vlahos

I’m a former pro opera singer, performance artist, mentor, stage director. I believe in the voice, in the inner voice, hence, I am a storyteller.

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