First Denunciation

Page from the 1933 vocal score of Dmitri Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District

While my mother danced
to classical music behind
a locked door I was made
to sit outside with girls
and my box of crayons.

This was the first time
I was humiliated in public
for coloring outside the lines
of the pages given to me
for showing the auras
of animals and sun.

Pigtailed girls in prairie
skirts and ribbons pointed
to the book in my lap
and cackled among themselves
chastising me
for doing it the wrong way.

Perhaps this is what drew
me to Shostakovich
who made Stalin shudder
with loud brass and percussion
who made Stalin laugh uncontrollably
at lovemaking.

My Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District
began outside a ballet class
and a locked door
and I have never been accepted since
nor grasped the true meaning of passion.