“Twilight is the best time,” you said, “when all the light
is hanging on by a thread.”
I looked down to see the crown of your head,
your cheek pressed firmly to my breast and your
fingertips a timid touch.
I took your hands and said, “Do you like to dance?”
Like a fawn waiting to be led you cried, “I’ve never danced,
never lied, never did a single thing without approval first applied!”
And with that you departed from me,
and whirled in such beauty repose free nakedness on your toes,
I watched you sway like a dizzying rose;
you sparked in me something of gallantry.
I moved so quiet, you did not hear;
some imagined music was surely leavened in your ear.
So soft was I when I clutched your back, and
so came your gasp as though some attack—enlacing you
to me piece by piece; I twirled you sudden capriccioso;
tugging and hugging you to-and-fro, you shouted out:
“I love to dance!”
I guided you across the veranda like the wild creature you were.
Slowing my stride, into my neck, you whispered clear, “How many times
have you danced upon here?”
I held you close, and rocked you,
aware that the last thread of light had given way to night.
“Many times.” I said, “With many different
pairs of feet. Men and women, bold and beautiful, sweet and sour;
I’ve danced with all kinds of souls under every hour.”
“Even under twilight?”
“Even under twilight.”
Once again your cheek pressed to my breast,
and with your lips you imprinted a ruby mark upon my clavicle.
You made me sigh.
“How do the men dance?” you asked.
“Like you’d expect: They push with purpose (except when they don’t)
and like hovering stones they move you forward, or backward,
but never sideways. You turn only for sake of avoiding collision.”
“How do the women dance?”
“Like feather footed upside-down umbrellas to be dragged and dipped.
The ones who dance like men simply choose not to dance.”
“How do I dance?”
You placed it so delicately.
“Like a woman…with purpose.”
You halted me with a tight clutch, and we stood
beneath some moon that had come when I was not looking.
With Saturn eyes, dazzle bright glossy rings, you gazed to me,
and in the sight of you my heart thumped in soliloquy.
Your palm you lifted to my rosy face, and to
my cherub lips your mouth found its place.
In a moment every atom in every marrow of my being sang.
“You dance like neither,” you hushed to me,
so halcyon and unbridled and draped in mythology,
“You dance like the twilight, like the last thread of sunbeam;
the night eager and prowling to set its grip in. You dance like
a ship, seconds from wreck; you dance like the ocean,
glowing like clementines before darkness begins. You dance like
no man, boy, girl, nor woman ever has. You dance,
as someone who truly knows how to dance.”
I say damn to those words. Damn them, I was caught.
I had stepped headlong into romance.
And I there rooted in love, paled like a dove,
you said in quiet joy, “I have made you speechless.”
Dear yes! I say, to all those stars that hung above, I was!
Utterly breathless on the spot.
So, I did the only thing I could do.
I danced the decades away.
I danced as your sunbeam, your night, your ship, your sea at twilight.
I danced with you.
I say this with verity; without a drop of my adoration it would still be true.
When you danced with me, you surpassed me:
Dearest goddess, rich Sheba, Queen of the Nile and roaring Boudicca,