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My Dance Card

The law of impermanence states that everything changes

the curve of the river the child the flower the state of grace.

Approaching the bluff today I, crestfallen, saw that the

fantastical dancing man, the luckily shaped branch of a fallen tree,

was gone, not just broken off but completely missing, no trace of him.

Only yesterday I’d rested happily in the thought that the woods are

ever changing, always fresh, rejuvenated every season, every day.

All well and good until the dancing man disappears without so much

as a by your leave, my dance card lying empty in the palm of my hand.

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Saucha was our lesson today, a word

referring to purity of thought and body,

yogic cleanliness, clarity, orderliness.

A quick glance at my messy studio

reveals a distinct lack of the latter.

Piles of papers fill my desk, cover the printer,

lie upon, let me just say it, practically every

flat, semi or slightly flat surface therein,

preventing the use of a fan on these hot days.

Items I might need one day rest in various spots

hither and thither where, when the time comes,

I imagine I will either recall exactly where they are

or find them easily amidst the chaos,

a naive imagining oft proven false.

One day, I tell myself, I will have all of it

organized, put away, filed, ordered, the many

surfaces dusted, the potentially useful spaces cleared,

a soothing tabula rasa in which to work.  One day.

This pure thought lies mouldering in my cluttered brain.

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And so we trip along the paths of wood and meadow

taking in everything, the call of the pileated woodpecker

sending a ruffle of ahhhhh! through my body

the light in the trees the cool touch of the morning air

the rasping of cicadas, the scampering of my two dogs

the wild devotion with which they apply themselves

to this quotidian place as if they have never ever ever been

here before, as if every leaf and stem is brand new

as if Life itself has just this moment burst open in them

and sent them rocketing down the path.


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Not Exactly It

Sixty new things I said I’d do

in my sixtieth year now

a burden a chore an albatross

not the thrilling party I’d envisioned.

The fried pig’s head so unappealing

the various cocktails disappointing

the left side of the bed unsettling

my whistling ever yet sub par

the skydive still looming

and with five weeks left

forty-seven down, thirteen to go

the inner nagging does not let up.

What else what next what’s new?

I’ll try making marshmallows

dye my hair purple

learn fifty new words

and when at last this year is over

return to Life As Usual

no promise no pressure no pact

each new encounter a lovely surprise

undertaken for the sheer joy of it.

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The Dance Card

At the estate sale I bought a young woman’s

dance card from a formal dance of the

Theta Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma

dated February first, 1915.  More than a card

it is a small booklet on a string with five

pages and a brass mesh cover, the

facing pages listing Engagements

and Dances with the names of the

musical numbers printed out

Ballin’ the Jack, The High Cost of Loving,

It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, 

When Grown Up Ladies Act Like Babies

and to end the evening, Good Bye, Boys.

The young men’s names are pencilled in:

Mr. C. Avery, Mr. Mann, Mr. Cook and

on line 13 the underlined note I kissed him

with his name given only as XXX.

Well well well!  What might the chaperones

Mrs. Bella Kirkbride and Miss Fannie Sanders

have thought of that?  And why did

this young lady keep her beau’s name a secret?

And whatever became of him?  Of her?

Of Mr. Mann, Mr. Cook Mr. C. Avery

and all the others she’d written down?

They are all certainly long gone now never

imagining that a perfect stranger would

one day wonder about their lives and loves

about who and what they became

whether they lived happily ever after

somehow escaped the ravages of war

or more likely died young and bewildered

in a foreign country a lifetime away

from formal dances no chaperone

to keep them out of harm’s way.

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My littlest dog keeps himself extremely busy

with many tasks and duties, first and foremost

guarding this house against intruders, i.e.

screaming at any person or dog passing down the street.

Catching squirrels which includes stationing himself at

the base of the redbud tree for as long as he must

until they finally escape away in the treetops.

Carrying his many disemboweled stuffed animals

in and out in and out of the house all day long.

Yelling from the car at any dog or person

choosing to walk on any sidewalk or street.

Chasing off the raccoon and the white cat

that lurk outside the fence at night.

Preventing my neighbor’s dog from ever

leaving her home or entering her own yard.

Ingratiating himself to All who actually enter

our home despite his best efforts to keep them out.

Getting everyone to love him more than

Miles the hedonist (not working on Mother).

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Her brain was addled

from too much cake

(so they said)

though anyone knows

that cake will go

straight to your toes

(instead of up top)

and make you jig

dance til you drop.

She licked the crumbs

right off the floor

held up her plate

and asked for more.

Now she lives atop a tree

pining for you, waiting for me

waiting for anyone (truth be told)

who will bring her a cake

(she has a heart of gold).