"Let's Face the Music and Dance"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Nov. 23 2010 6:56 AM

"Let's Face the Music and Dance"

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear J. Allyn Rosser read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.
.

Ginger standing in her beaded gown.  
It drips and hangs from her frame
like the mood she's been drooping in
when Fred catches up with her—
both suicidally forlorn. Something
coiled in their long, separate forms
lets them without warning lean in,
begin to glide and swirl like an ache
in the muscle-marrow, if there were any;
healing motions, similar to what
filling the hole in your heart
would feel like if you had one. 
They undulate over that lonely deck
like a sea in thrall to its moon,
in such unison as only liquids know,
their eyes drinking shadows, heads back
tossing them down, his slick shoes
kicking off lightbeams, her dress with each
twirl and pause wrapping itself around
both her legs and his, slowly, heavily,
in arousing, languorous embrace,
and when her arms lift at last above
their dull despondency, Fred gets it
right in the kisser. One sleeve,
heavy with beadwork, slams him 
like a rock-studded whitecap—
but you can hardly see it happen,
even if you've read all about it
and you're watching with held breath;
the camera angle arranges for only Fred
to see stars that don't dance, only Fred
knows he's reeling from a blow
that would flatten John Wayne.
But Fred was dancing, and it had been
going well, even if Ginger's heels
were invisibly sticky with blood,
nothing would stop these two from finishing
this take, from charming the air out from under
the breath of everyone while Ginger's feet
skip over, caper into, on top of, their pain—
these two whose undauntable, headlong,
unwavering verve we learn of is as lovely
as the dance they turn more deeply into now,
as Ginger's perilously animated sleeves fling
and flash and swing, and Fred even now not once
squinting, not even ever once leaning away.

.

J. Allyn Rosser teaches at Ohio University and is the author of Foiled Again. She teaches at Ohio University, where she edits New Ohio Review.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

iOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

My Father Was James Brown. I Watched Him Beat My Mother. Then I Married Someone Like Him.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 12:02 PM Here It Is: The Flimsiest Campaign Attack Ad of 2014, Which Won’t Stop Running
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
The Vault
Sept. 17 2014 1:04 PM The War Department's WWII Advice Booklet for Soldiers Headed to Syria
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 1:26 PM Hey CBS, Rihanna Is Exactly Who I Want to See on My TV Before NFL Football Games
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 1:01 PM A Rare, Very Unusual Interview With Michael Jackson, Animated
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 12:35 PM IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.