Post Road Magazine #26

Poem With Refrain By Linda Nathan

Robert Pinsky
(The title of her book)

"The hardest questions aren't on the test."
For instance: how can you preserve a dance?
Video, diagram? Written or spoken word?
Or is it hopeless, like describing a taste?
And does "impossible" make trying absurd?—
The hardest questions aren't on the test.

Of all notations for dance, the body is best:
Somebody who knows it conveying it to another
In each demanding gesture of trunk and wrist,
Difficult counterbalance of muscles, together
And yet distinct: the arch, the waist, the chest
Contending in a difficult accord.
And is the difficulty the work's reward?
Or is the difficulty the spirit's cost?
The hardest questions aren't on the test.

And how much time to learn to be a dancer?
To teach one person? To build a school? It's vast—
Or no, is that not right? Not vast, forever?—
The learning and the building never over?
Why are we hungry to learn, and yet require
A teacher who, when she says Good: what's next?
It makes you realize you need to answer?
The hardest questions aren't on the test.


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