Friday, October 09, 2009

Poetry - The Night We Danced Sequence

I. The Night We Danced at the Promenade

In the blue-walled ballroom of the Hotel Don Leon
the boot-black sky served in slices at the open doors
and citrus blossoms hanging thick as seed pearls
on the specimen trees espaliered on the courtyard walls
like men before a firing squad,
we were not yet lovers.

Forehead to cheek, we kept the distance demanded of our charges.
Fevered teenage eyes watching us, suspicious of our dancing grace,
their own gyrations rumbling the parquet loose from its glue,
shaking the chandelier in the ballroom below, raining
small bits of plaster onto wedding plates.

This is the only acceptable public embrace
we've jotted into our conduct codes
as our longing unfurls among the crepe-paper roses
and silver-sprayed ivy.

The dance ends and our bodies part, hands lingering.
Out on the balcony the pierced-tin sky tilts and spins like a shuttlecock.
The dry air browns the orchids in my corsage
as the petals drape their arms around the curled ribbon.

Notes: This is the first in a series of poems done as a cycle. I'll put them up over the next few days. The cycle has six poems in it - each playing with a poetric tradition of praise and longing, whether in form or in device used. The arc of the cycle is from the inception of an affair through to the distant future. The device in use is sound - lots of "o" and "a" and other sounds that make for a sigh. Prom is something most everyone remembers - fondly or not - but it's not just the teenagers who get taken with Prom. Most teachers are required to chaperone at least one dance per year and in my time as a teacher I learned that the faculty is every bit as much under the sway of hormones as the students are. High school is a stew of longing. I've been working on this cycle for years and haven't really ever done much with it. Why tonight? Because it's been a horrible day - probably the worst in a series of bad days, and what the hell - why not.

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