I have actually written several poems about the piece, Bolero, and I have an old radio among my radios, in the kitchen that actually belonged to my son when he was in high school. And I had the radio on one day, and Bolero was playing and I was dancing in my stocking-feet in the kitchen. And essentially that's what happens in this poem.
So one day when the azalea bush was firing
away and the Japanese maple was roaring I
came into the kitchen full of daylight and
turned on my son’s Sony sliding over the
lacquered floor in my stocking feet for it was
time to rattle the canisters and see what
sugar and barley have come to and how Bolero
sounds after all these years and if I’m loyal
still and when did I have a waist that thin?
And if my style was too nostalgic and where
were you when I was burning alive, nightingale?
unpublished poem, copyright © Gerald Stern 2008, used by permission of the author. Poetry Foundation recording made on 10 March 2006, Austin, Texas.