Erin O’Luanaigh


Running Wilde’s imagination was a wish
to see behind the curtain of Mark’s prose,
in which he only noted that she “danced
to please King Herod’s guests,” then fixed a dish
served cold. Her charms (and how many she disclosed),
her need at last to catch the Baptist’s glance
added flesh to Wilde’s fabricated romance—

added scandal when, in an opera by Strauss
(its libretto lifted whole-cloth from the Wilde),
his star refused to strip down “like a whore.”
She waited backstage, cross-armed in her blouse
while a ballerina, willing to go unveiled,
ran out to Herod’s feet and covered for her,
then slipped behind the curtain like a metaphor.