One Moment


Feeling fatal, my heart pounds;
ravenous hunger nearly sated
holy reunion with pure freedom.
Dance of ecstasy; dance of grief.
Liquid arms, no bones, no angles,
a swan’s neck, a wave, the wind.
May this touch your soul.

Bone-bruising, hell-hot repetition:
step, ball change, plié, relevé,
chassé 32 counts from the corner.
Collapse, run, contract, release —
piano scales played on this body
by a crazed lover — my need.
Straighten that back.
Long neck!
Shoulders down.
Arms in fifth!
Start again.
Chin down, head high.
Do it again.
Light feet!
Four more counts.
Heart thunders; lungs bellow;
floor burns enlarge; blisters bleed,
exhausted muscles quiver

Minutes accumulate —
hours become days, weeks, decades —
building physical strength and vocabulary.
For one moment when there is no body,
one instant of perfect communication.
One soaring leap conveys all joy;
one contraction contains every pain;
dervish spins merge into lovers’ ecstasy.
Let my fragile, tender visible self
mesmerize you, draw you into
an impeccable sense of being wholly alive.
One exquisite crack of lightning
illuminates the darkness
of our separation.

Slithering, stomping, saltating,
willing the Sublime to blaze for one second.
Using bones, sinew, lungs, heart, skin
as offerings,
my burning body as the sacrifice,
dreams wisp into smoke on the altar.
And again.

Then, my darkness won.
More frantic than fine
emotions consumed me.
I plunged into an abyss
my spirit withering as I fell.
Drama seared everyone.
I crawled; I wept; I drank.

Don’t talk to me about dancing.
Don’t cajole or coddle me.
It’s too late.
I don’t dance.
I never was any good anyway.
I understand now.
Alcohol is my muse.

It took years to remember
how to soar again.

Myrtle Dancing


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