Wednesday, January 04, 2006

perhaps Europe before the war

We seem to dance, you and I,
in a place of half-familiar anachronisms,
perhaps Europe before the first world war.
We move our limbs through patterns
of an archaic dance
a minuet or whatever
in a ballroom left over
from the dreams of our ancestors
cornices & pillars & gilt
vaulted ceilings & mirrors & marble floors
among Hapsbourgs & Hohenzollerns
swirling stiffly past us oblivious
to all except the formal steps
of the dance.

Seeing each other
clearly, belatedly, with a start
we realize that it is late
that it is near time for us to
quit this glittering night place
and return to our separate morning lives
so without speaking
try to break step
as gracefully as can be managed
to leave.

First glimmerings of unease
shine on us almost benignly
like the warm light
from the chandeliers;
although we stumble occasionally
from the effort of resisting
even when we believe we've begun to walk
we are swept nevertheless through the steps of
the minuet or whatever
bodies held in moving thrall by
the music and the press
of the couples around us.
We are puzzled
and begin to pay more attention
to our surroundings
to the pairings
recognising now
that although the faces could be perhaps
from pictures in history books
they are not all
Hapsbourgs & such
that indeed some of the heavier-browed
wear skins of extinct animals
& others have a mediaeval cast
& some are peons & some are dressed for dinner
but it doesn't matter
all move with their companions in the steps
of the minuet or whatever.

We come back to each other's eyes
my face and yours reflected,
strained, straining, sweating
as we realize, reluctant but
steadily more willing
communion in a ritual.
We step our stylised steps
all of us
with only small variations
noteworthy possibly to stray ethnologists
but anyway the details aren't important;
it is the grand pattern that is,
under the shine of the lights
the rustling of stiff silks and serges
with untanned furs and coarse wools
each mating whirling
with all of the others for a backdrop
every couple
ever pulled into the everchanging
neverchanging movement
each new pair swept
into the music
discovering themselves in this place
that may be eternity
or anywhere, but that is
at least for you and I
as we dance this minuet or whatever
perhaps Europe before the war.

3 comments:

C said...

Lovely as usual. Your work makes me think...makes me smile.

I feel as if I was one of the dancers. Well done.

coyote said...

Thanks, Christa; I hope you enjoy this coming year!

Fingers said...

Beautiful...