( In 1903 the Austrian composer Alban Berg’s opera
Lulu was inspired by Frank Wedekind’s plays Earth Spirit
& Pandora’s Box, with a heroine finally killed off by Jack
the Ripper, wandering through Europe. Before Lulu
dies so violently she causes wars, suicides, destructions …)
O Lulu, I slipped inside you
so easily. You were my first fun
part, with no billowing wigs. How I stared
through our widening mascara’d eyes.
How I felt your contemptuous
shrugging naked shoulder
my own, your legs criss-crossing
openings inside slitted skirts, my own.
It was you and me against
everybody, just the two of us
carried off in Berg’s possessive, grating
dissonances. We never cried
We dreamed our life shimmering
history cracks for us in smoky wisps
like silk, satin, like slippery sweet, salty
body smells. O, our slides
into honey, our rises to the highest
cajoling with the seductive Countess, while all our tenors
& baritones stiffened, melted, groaned
in our arms like weepy
Their voices cried out passions
in high-and-low-pitched raging whispers
so loud in our ears we knew
we were queen.
Do you still feel the eyes crawling spidery
all over our skin the way we walked alone
later, night-lonesome on the streets
until the throat-
slasher came to get us?
o Lulu o Lulu o
now I don’t sing your life
anymore. But I remember how
we felt at the end, how we held our breath
inside, all exposed on the darkening stage
in a blaze of light to the roaring, hand-clapping, the Lulu-
wildly murderous crowds.