Dancer & Other Poetry by Anabell Donovan

Online Open Mic – 2021

Like a lullaby sung to sadness, Anabell Donovan’s poetry comforts while telling its story. Come read her marvelous work!

My Favorite Line: “Break a vow of silence and whistle Mozart, pace with memory and awaken sorrow’s wreath round their brows.”

In this empty shell,
where time flushed out
the yolk and yellow,
he is the smoothed out
jagged persistence,
the bare bones
on which the essential rides
subtle muscle and shadow days.

His weathered body moves
Deliberate and stealth,
shapes angles and patterns
in space,
calls forth the golden center
in the flower’s folds,
rhythms fleshed,
sinew enunciated.

I move to his prompts,
body to body response,
and I know this is beyond
precise etches embedded in ritual,
for we have loved deeply,
he has lifted and lowered
me unto him with ease,
as the first wave
flaunted thunder,
rose, surged, and crashed
in the primal,
on a shore untouched
he traced the spiral
in the shell,
the breeze,
the wheat stalks,
the sway within
and with all.

His name is unknown,
unnecessary as gossamer
drapery on the door.


We followed our father,
shoulder to shoulder
my brothers and I,
gazed at him adoringly,
behind elaborate masks
and plumed hats.

Follow his lead,
stomp, stomp,
charge the toro huaco,
he was the bull on fire,
amidst flute and drum,
loud firecrackers,
and his laughter.

Yet his illness
wouldn’t be tackled head on,
he raged against it
then went to work,
his balls standing on end,
he said every day.

He walked by me with a gun,
said he’d kill himself,
and I was silent,
my breath hanging
over the roses in the garden,
but there was no sound.

He moved to a bordello
across town,
the bull on fire had to charge
one last time,
and I saw him
smothered between breasts
and thighs.

At his funeral,
I recalled when he sped
around a narrow curve
on his Electra Glyde
and crashed against his brother
in an army jeep.

He was in a coma for four days
and lost the center of his forehead bone.

I wondered if his face
would collapse into that dent
and had to be convinced
to see him in the coffin
for a last goodbye.

Perhaps the dent was God’s sign,
for my father wrestled with God
and contended with life.

He reserved the mark for extreme unction,
for that priest’s thumb
to bless him with oil.

Some bulls are saved by a different fire
than the one that burns them,
and in his final moments,
he didn’t prevail
but he received a blessing.

My last farewell tasted
like salty tears and sacred oil,
as I kissed his dent
and his folded hands.

I let him go in peace.

Do you…?

Harried days a slow sundial chases shadows, 

salt statues glance back,

eyes caked in permanent tears.

    Do you still throw open every window

    to softly elated Spring days in Winter?

    Do your curtains still rustle and cascade

    to the pensive sound of Portuguese guitars?

Cliff dwellers and hermits groan

the deep ache of darkened wells emptied

down an endless spiral shell.

Break a vow of silence and whistle Mozart,

pace with memory and awaken

sorrow’s wreath round their brows.

    Do you still lace sturdy coffee

    with Bailey’s Irish cream?

    Do you still put a new penny

    in your black-eyed peas?

The city is in ruins.

No one comes back.


Anabell Donovan (Anna Eusthacia) is a psychologist and educator dedicated to student success. She wants to “start where language ends.”

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