First Communion

Toller Cranston was promoting his memoir Zero Tollerance on Jane Hawtin Live

And I was flat in my back swallowing blue pills: I felt a medicated affinity pass between us,

Like we were both treading water, melancholically

He told the host how he one day he just sold all of his stuff and how it freed him

Something I envied, even if his decor was genuinely valuable

And mine was a selection of large, plaster tigers and a LOVE KILLS poster

We both were being sucked under by things, except he was brave

Or broke enough to cut himself loose.

He shouldn’t have died: why is it I think of him as a friend?

I remember Jane Hawtin praising his bronze Olympic medal,

His sepulchral look, in return.

“It’s not gold,” she said. “But it’s still something—”

“No Jane. No,” he said in a tired, deadly voice.

In 1976, he is spinning like a drill in a blue jumpsuit, punctuated with fiery diamonds

“Something is not quite there,” one if the announcers says,

“His usual flair—”

Ignoring what is there: Grace defying gravity, pain,

Beauty forged into blades and glitter and slow, relentless blood.

Dead in Mexico today of “an apparent heart attack,”

Dead amidst the ravishing plumage of the other birds who

Get a little higher every day, and farther away, from the drabness of the ordinary world

He shot through on steel bolts and bad nerves. With uncommon radiance.

  • Barbara Agar

    Beautiful, Lynn. Beautiful Lynn.

  • Angelabsurdist

    You captured the essence of Toller Cranston’s elegance perfectly with your poem.
    When I was thirteen years old I met him in an elevator at The Hudson Bay department store. I told him how I loved his skating. He was an original skater with style and grace – an artist.

    • lynncrosbie

      Thank you. I really like your story. So often people get the chance to speak up and blow it out of fear. I’m glad you were such a cool kid, and I’m glad you wrote me. X

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