Dancer First on the Floor, Debi

Back then, we had sunburned tips of noses,

sand permanently stuck to feet.

Dinner, a pig pulled and dressed,

Sat abandoned on paper plates.

Sacrifice meant nothing as waves

Crashed near, and the skim of the pool

Wobbled gently.

 

A standing speaker lept alive.

Soulful beats familiar thanks to dad.

But I was afraid.

 

Afraid of my height, of my body and how it would

Move wrong or freeze. Afraid of an empty, chlorinated

Dance floor that could swallow me whole.

 

Did you know this fear? We never saw.

Instead, you charged ahead.

A dancer first on the floor,

celebrity in style, grace and light.

You the heartbeat and we now rushing cells.

 

How we danced! Your bronzed arms

Swinging front to back. Legs in rhythmic

Steps side to side. Husband across

Matching each joyful bounce. Your ever-widening

Smile an invitation to join

a life of frequency spun open like a feast.

 

Each song was a gift

and I suddenly lifted from the puddles.

 

There in North Carolina,

You taught me to be free.

How to harness a deep energy and then, pass it along.

 

We like ripples danced

until music became goodbye.

Us cousins, tired and sated, followed

like ducklings back over the boards

to a home temporarily by the sea.

 

written 4.1.20

Fiercely, we hold on

We are never more rooted
in this big universe than
when our eyes sting and
our heads hang heavy for loss.

When we, a procession of sun
glasses, watch, shifting feet,
as life disappears back into
those thick familiar arms.

Our backs, clothed in black,
savor warmth, unaware that
we are at once joyful and empty,
and crying for ourselves

mirrored in the lowering. How
we know deeply: absence
of something weighs more than
substance, and we fiercely hold on.

Midnight Streets

We were born to roam midnight streets
to leave sticky notes of jazz on exuberant thighs
stopped beneath streetlights of dancing rays
gnawing here and there, tipping them back, tossing aside.

We die each hour of impending day but
the streets become a blues pulse, thumping. Again,
hold on to¬†night’s desperation and grind slow
into cobblestones content with the hour still late, late, late.