"Ta Ta Cha Cha"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Nov. 23 2004 7:36 AM

"Ta Ta Cha Cha"

Listen to Rita Dove reading this poem. One, two—no, five doves scatter before a wingtip's distracted tread: Lost, lost, they coo, and they're probably right: It's Venice, I'm American, besandaled and backpacked, sunk in a bowl of sky trimmed with marbled statuary (slate, snow, ash)— a dazed array, dipped in the moon's cold palette.

Who, you? No. But here,
lost from a wing, drifts
one pale, italicized
answer. I pick it up
as the bold shoe
continues conversation
(one two) with its mate,
and the nearest scavenger
skips three times
to the side, bobs to pluck
his crackerjack prize, a child's
dropped gelato cone.

Tip, tap: early warning code
for afternoon rain. Gray
vagabond, buffoon messenger
for grounded lovers—where to?
Teach me this dance
you make, snatching a sweet
from the path of a man
who because he knows
where he's headed, walks
without seeing, face hidden
by a dirty wingspan
of the daily news.

Former U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Rita Dove received the 2011 National Medal of Arts from President Obama. Her latest book publications are Sonata Mulattica and The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry.

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