Posts Tagged ‘dance’

One Maleficent

            for my daughter
cheering the villain
in black pointe shoes—
her evil so magnificent

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Once Upon a Night

In the living room after dinner, my daughter
plays Tchaikovsky on Alexa
and dances every character in Sleeping Beauty
Aurora, the prince, the evil fairy,
the lilac fairy, the bluebird, the jewels—
she leaps and lifts, she jumps
and twirls and raises her arms
with a delicate twist of each wrist.
She is more wing than limb,
more song than blood,
more frolic than bone.
To watch her is holy business
 as she learns to make each step beautiful.

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after the painting “The Bedroom” by Vincent van Gogh and the piano composition “Yellow Bed” by Kayleen Asbo

In the tilted room with the yellow bed,
hope waltzes on the wooden floor—
one, two, three, one, two, three—
not that you see it there,
it’s not obvious like the windows,
the paintings, the mirror, the pitcher, the chairs.
Hope is what you don’t see.
But it is there, beside the water glasses,
beside the long towel.
Hope sways so keenly
to snatches of melody
the whole room seems to sway.
And it’s one, two, three,
one, two, three; Who, hope says,
will dance with me? It promises
friendship. It promises rest.
Will you dance? it asks, a dizzy mess.
It promises community. It promises fame.
Will you dance? it asks, but it smells
of paint and faraway dreams.
It smells of madness and longing to be seen.
Will you dance? it says, its arms flung out.
Here is where Vincent said yes.
Some see a still life, but others see
the whirling, the twirling, the beautiful
spinning of hope, reeling hope,
fragile hope.

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No Regret

Some moments are flame.
There was a time
I wanted a promise
we would not burn.
Now I give myself to the blaze
knowing the burn
is part of the path,
knowing that matter
dances best
once it’s ash.

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I am still learning how to dance with grief—
it leads me through strange sequences,
intricate steps I have yet to master.
Just as I think I have learned
what comes next, I stumble, I step
on my own feet, I trip, I fall. I never
ask myself if this is a dance I want to learn.
It’s the dance I’ve been invited to dance.
If asked, I might have said no. But
today, grief holds me tightly, as if
to keep me from falling. Then loosens
its grasp as I let myself be led.
I am a student in trust. And we glide,
and I’m spun, and sometimes
we just stand, this stillness
its own kind of dance
I am slow to learn.

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All that Dances Through

Though grief prefers a solemn shuffle
and mirth prefers to shimmy and skip,
they often come together
on the dance floor of the heart.
They’re not picky about the music.
Really, all they want from me
is a dance hall spacious enough
where there’s room for them both
at the same time—
a place where mirth can whirl
and grief can shamble.
When I’m small,
they push against the inner walls
and kick me in the ribs,
and they dance, and they dance.
I feel every step.
Is it true I can hold it all?
And I am what is still
as grief lumbers and mirth leaps.
And I am what is still here
long after the dancers leave.

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Tonight I fall in love with the mirliton
in the blue and white tutu—the way
she leaps, the way she angles her arm.
Not that I didn’t love her before
when she was a soldier, when she
was a snowflake, when she was a bon bon
or an angel in frothy white fluff. But tonight,
more than anything, it is her smile
that makes me weep in row H.
Because it is real, her joy in the chassé,
the grande jeté, the pas de bourrée.
Because her joy is my joy. Because
I know what she’s danced through
to get to this stage where that smile
spreads across her face like the sunrise
the first morning after winter solstice—
an essential, growing light aware of the dark,
just learning what it can do.

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Family Woman

Such awkward dance partners,

this longing to follow my own pursuits,

this longing to be ever available to you.

Both want to lead.

They step on each other’s feet.

One waltzes, though the other

has put on rock and roll.

One loves eye contact, the other

loves closed eyes to better feel the music.

And yet they whirl and two step every day,

taking turns swinging and dipping and bowing.

I used to think they were rivals.

Now I know neither wants to dance alone.

Even now, they’re pushing back the furniture,

rolling up the rug. There’s gonna be a real

fine hoedown tonight.

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Beat. Blending. Bolero. Breakaway.

Before bed, my daughter and I

do a word search. The theme:

“Social Dancing.” At the same time

we notice how closely related

Dancing is to Distancing.


The hidden words all snuggle

in their thirteen by thirteen square.

Brush. Cha-cha. Foxtrot. Polka.

They cross each other, touch each other,

overlap, congregate, connect.

Rumba. Samba. Slow Dance. Spin.


How I miss doing what these letters

are doing—getting lost in a crowd,

then emerging less as a self and

more as a spiral turn, upside down

and backwards, or heck,

showing up as a straightforward sway.


Oh I miss that glorious not knowing

where I begin and end, surrounded

by others as we swing, swivel, tango, waltz.



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I no longer have the shiny black shoes

with metal taps on the bottoms—


though if I did, they would perhaps sit

in the back of the closet along with the wigs,

the boas, the long black gloves.


How I used to love the sounds they made—

fa-lap, fa-lap, fa-lap ball change—

such a shiny, happy silver sound

that used my own heart as a metronome.


I was never much good, but I didn’t care,

I held out my arms with wrists upturned just so


and shuffled and clicked and smiled

for no one but myself. I think of that

today as I dance in the office alone,


it’s a quiet affair without the right shoes,

and I am clumsy with lack of practice,

but laughter makes a fine music

for everything inside me dancing.


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