A Marvel to Recall

(A once in a lifetime exhibition — literally!)

*****

Toward the end the last century of
I lived in Mississippi for a while
And while was there I went to see a show
The memory of which still makes me smile

To understand completely how it was
A little history must I reveal
Which, tender and heartwarming as it is,
Immeasurably adds to its appeal

Some vacationing doctors and their wives
Jackson, the state’s Capitol City, from
Elected had to travel far afield
Thus unto Mother Russia they had come

To find it relatively lacking in
Equipment medical, to a degree
Which made those tenderhearted southern folk
More than a little bit unhappy be

So back they came to these United States
Where oft discarded such equipment be
For relatively minor a defect
Or some reparable anomaly

And sent to whence they’d so recent returned
A generous and bulky shipment of
Machines to measure, monitor, alarm
And x-ray, asking no return but love

So grateful were the medics who received
Their benefit in old St. Petersberg
Dedicated the next nine solid months
Repay those doctors’ gift with willing work

From some of the richest of palaces
In history much rich and ornate knows
A dozen most magnificent of rooms
Together with their artisans they chose

Who disassembled each one, stone by stone
Each cornice, every single ornament
Each tiny piece of intricate parquet
And with those artisans, the rooms then sent

Across the ocean over which had come
Our so deeply appreciated gift
Returning thus a present of their own
Intending so those doctors’ hearts to lift

And when the million pieces, numbered all,
Upon our shores presently did arrive
Those artisans set to their work again
And for another year’s three quarters strive

The same way they had taken them apart
To put those rooms together back again
Exercising to utmost all their art
Ignoring no detail, sparing no pain

An entire eighteen long months after they
Our shipment of relief so glad received
Those fortunate enough to live in Jackson had
An experience not to be believed

For just the trouble of driving cross town
Of this display to be a happy part
Attendees spent their visit in a world
In which there nothing was that was not art

The Great Katherine’s coronation gown
(She was, it turns out, so very petite!)
The bowls which out they took their toothpicks from
The golden plates ‘fore which they sat to eat

No representation exper’ienced there
No replica, no false facsimile
But very objects that the Romanovs
Surrounded in their daily lives would be

Room after room — each next more wonderful
Than that which had astonished just before
The eye with ornament dizzy become
The mind and heart, replete, absorb no more!

And not content with doing merely this
They sent along the great Bolshoi Ballet
To so provide a fitting evening to
Be ending to that so amazing day

For when taken our places happy had
We saw Russia’s Ballerina Premiere
Just as she had for European crowns
And Middle Eastern potentates appear

Taller, thinner, a decade more mature
Than any troupe of ours would even take
Before awed eyes became a dying bird
In heartrending performance of “Swan Lake”

And then, next morning, as the sun arose
Unwilling their responsibilities to shirk
The artisans of Russia rolled their sleeves
And promptly started right back to their work

Another nine months disassemble to
And further nine again — three years in all
That we few seraph souls that magic day
Possess now such a marvel to recall

*****
The poet/editor of this website is physically disabled, and lives at a fraction of her nation’s poverty level. Contributions may be made at: https://www.gofundme.com/are-you-a-patron-of-the-arts.

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