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i don't dance

by Bet Yeldem

age 14, sweetheart's ball,
balloons and streamers frolicking above my head,
i see him coming
and i start praying, not for the outstretched hand
but for the feet to just go
walking by to the next girl, but he stops
and there it is
"do you want to..."
i don't even let him finish
"i don't dance," i say, "sorry"

age 16, junior prom,
the backdrop of the photo staging area looks
as if my baby brother painted it,
no, he would've done better,
and although i forewarned him before the date,
he still asked, and i was irritated
"i told you i don't dance"
did he expect
i changed my mind because there's a flower
pinned on my dress?

age 19, the biggest expectation of the biggest day,
aside from the kiss that
seals your fate forever
there it is, reception entrance,
music plays
they wait with anticipating eyes
i unfasten the veil
from my hair
shake off the urge to give the evil eye
to every person in the room
and save it just for
the one with the nerve to ask
"you should know me better than that by now"
i don't dance

but there was a time,
4, 8, 12,
all saw leaps and bounds
flips and twirls
smiling for the audience in the stands
and there were times
13, 15, 17,
all near fatal collisions
slam dancing, moshing, crowd surfing
laughing at life and self and
altered perception

and there are times still
a little lightness
of being sends me to partner with
moonbeams and rainbows
kissing sprinklers
being held by the breeze
making perfume of the wet sod under my feet

what i meant to say
was "i don't dance... for you"
becuase you tell me
because you ask me
because you expect it of me
i will fight
i will rebel
i will make you regret having ventured so near

i sway instead
when you let me be
when i feel the songs of poets tongues
kneading my body like dough
stretching my senses
heating me up until i rise
spread the word
to every inch of every nerve and muscle
to feast on the sound
of syllables
to expend the energy given

yes, there it is
"come dance with me," whispers

then echos, then shivers, then cries aloud "dance"
barely even aware that
i am alone
i am here
and i will dance
for myself
in crowded rooms
or empty ones
to the music that muses bring
in moments when you least expect it
when life says
"this is what i have to offer"
then, i can't help but dance
and dance
and dance


Posted on 09/16/2008
Copyright © 2024 Bet Yeldem

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Cassandra Leigh on 11/10/08 at 11:48 PM

WOW!!!!!! I feel inspired.

Posted by David Hill on 11/11/08 at 01:20 AM

Lots of power in this one, and I am glad that you do indeed dance. (It is wonderful, the way music can get inside a person, those little soars of spirit, a state of flow.)

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