Posts Tagged ‘dance’

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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Only the Dance



At the still point of the turning world; neither flesh nor fleshless

—T. S. Eliot, from The Four Quartets



Waltzing in the kitchen,

I ask the sauté pan to dance.

It is an awkward affair,

neither of us is really sure

of the steps, neither of us

knows if the other is leading.

In the end, I curtsey. The sauté pan

retires to the stove top

and says nothing. There

is no applause. The music

that was not playing

continues not to play.


The deer in the grass

who did not turn to watch

the strange dance in the house

continue to eat the lawn,

which I know by tomorrow

will seem taller, though

I have never seen it grow.


In me, something so still.

I struggle to name it,

say “nothing,” and I bow

to the nothing, know it as true,

then it changes its name

to “everything.”


There is so much

I don’t understand.

On the stove, the butter

skitters across the pan.

It smells salty, sweet.

The pan and I are partners again.

I lift it by the handle

and swirl it slowly,

then return it to the grate.


I don’t dare be still now,

lest the butter burn.

Whatever is still in me

remains very, very still

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It starts in the shower at the Hot Springs Pool.
I am singing about the water, how good it feels,
so warm on my shoulders. I am aware there
are other people bathing in nearby stalls,
so I sing it on my breath, a little embarrassed,
but by the time I flounce into the parking lot,
I am singing in full voice to my children to please,
get in the car now, it’s time for lunch. I sashay to avoid
the mud puddles, and unlock the car doors
with a minor flourish of my hand. The car, it hums
a drone for the rest of the days characters
to harmonize against, and so, it seems, the mountains do.
They are singing in the key of February, which is a white,
steep chorus I usually do not hear over the sound
of the radio. But today, it is clear and rousing, and the snow
joins in on the long ride home. Even my son points out
how loud the flakes are as they sing against the panes. At dinner,
I chant to my girl, would you like some pears,
and the offer echoes off the roofbeams. She affirms
with an arpeggio of giggles and so I waltz to the pantry
where the pears croon a late summer sweetness right
out of the jar and onto her plate. It is, perhaps, always
this way, I think, each thing singing its singular song,
and every step a step in the dance in which we all meet
and separate and meet again, turn away and meet again,
and I can’t help but wonder what keeps us
from in every moment wildly clapping, ovation after
ovation, our hands fierce and staccato with praise.

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