Joseph Cornell

In a house shaken by wheels

On a street ironically named Utopia,

In middle-class Flushing, Queens,

He created a shoebox theater

In which a lovely ballerina

Named Tamara Toumanova

Could dance for him forever

The ballet of endless transience,

The beauty of every minute,

Which shapes up and then blows away.

She was already dead, to be sure,

But he had saved a hairpin she had owned

And a piece of cloth from a tutu

She had worn, and both at once,

And, making, he dreamed away

The arrogance of death.

—Stephen Stepanchev

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