Loading...
Loading...
Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Joe Hoover, S.J.December 15, 2017

Rockettes practice in the basement
of St. Paul’s—box jumps, zaps, tipping, strutting—
for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular
starring them.

The Rockettes! They are a real thing!
They come in and out the church side door
otherworldly like all dancers
aglow even in the dirty streets
postures so profound they look haughty
or righteous.

(If you yourself are haughty they seem haughty
if righteous righteous.)

Haughty righteous showgirls
coiled down into the bedrock, bubbling beneath
nave, narthex, tabernacle, sanctuary
tap heels flying, dance captain hollering
gestating below the sanctuary in autumn
until they burst out, like flowers in reverse
into the winter air.
And it is certain there are more than a few boys
plunked onto pews at St. Paul’s
happier to know there are Rockettes below
than there is God above.

In a low unquiet time a priest once told me
my job was to follow Jesus and die.
What precisely made him say this I don’t recall.
Father, I think my duty in life is to play
hours upon hours
of Candyland.
Your job is to follow Christ and die.

What does it mean to follow Christ
and what to die, and why did
all the power of the universe whittle down
go limp and need hefting about anyway?
To save your soul? All that fuss for
the unseen spirit, for a rumor of a thing
that does who knows what?

Rockettes perform up to four shows a day
ninety minutes each, six costume changes
bears, snowflakes, wooden soldiers
struck by cannon fire.
They put on antlers and pull a sleigh.

They work hard as sin in that church
on Columbus Ave to give you
a stupendous show on Sixth
near halal meat and Sean Hannity.

They kick eye high
up to 300 times a show
burn 10 billion calories
take ice baths after
call each other ladybirds
ladybirds lets swoop to lunch.

They seem nice.

At the end they transform
into a living Nativity, and a poem
about Jesus scrolls down a screen.

Jesus who maybe did not come
into the world to save your soul
but to start up a season
where the ladybirds perform for you.
And where your only true duty is to
receive receive.
To let the spectacle settle
into the dusty manger of your heart
and gasp, a red flush of incredulity
the countless kicks, a cascade of taps
uniform as the Red Army
sequined line
toppled soldiers
profligate sparkle, antlers riding high
camels, crib, mezzanine
orchestra, footlights, high sheen.
To breathe it all in
and die right there
and then go to Tiffany.

More: Theater
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

The latest from america

Elizabeth Cullinan's literary output was not prodigious—but her memorable characters and close attention to the Irish-American culture in which she lived made her a prominent fiction writer in the '70s and '80s.
James T. KeaneApril 16, 2024
Pope Francis and his international Council of Cardinals continued their discussions about the role of women in the church, listening to women experts, including a professor who spoke about how culture impacts women’s roles and status.
For Bonaventure, to eat spiritually is to approach eating the Eucharist both with faith and ultimately with the affection of charity in one’s heart.
Being a member of the “I don’t know club” means you will be attacked by both sides. It does not mean you have nothing to say.
Thomas J. ReeseApril 16, 2024