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The Dance.

The Dance

   I learned to dance to cumbias & oldies--the locomotion
   near a fenced river where small leafless trees lick black
   air. Jump-back lyrics pulsing while Ki Ki's voice mimicked
   the great pretender, Espanol then Ingles transcendent
   in strobe-lit motion right through little Lucy's hips.

   Now, Ki Ki's asbestos fibrous lungs bellow.
   Dancers sway blameless, hateless. They picked onions
   that way, rode wooden boxcars, slept together huddled,
   Riding Santa Fe rails to a place where onions
   and sugar cane built Qui-Que mighty. He dreamed big
   & cinematic. Picking & pulling,

   his mother cooking beans & tortillas on a cast iron oven
   hauled to a rusty train. Eyes glisten a past, las tinas,
   vats of pintos & chile, how he danced with Lucy
   on a rancho somewhere north of Juarez. It was not blood
   splotched palms of Mexicano beggars, it was glory
   that brought the music here to a greaseless carport.

   The way wild loss can make us howl. The bass thumps
   a piercing pace. He trumpets life, bellows wisdom.
   He's got his wife's small hand. She's four foot eight.
   Arthritic elbows & hands curve air. Breast to cheek,
   the tiniest couple swaying that way.

   Memory makes the hardest labored palms honey-soft,
   joints and muscles pressed smoothly tight. Bodies sliding
   across a cement floor like ice skaters in the desert.
   Bodies spinning to cumbias. Languages prancing
   in universal hip-hop. Dancing moments back,
   rows and rows once picked and shucked and sold.

   Ki Ki moved from the fields to the refinery;
   polluted his hair gray, rocking and rolling life away.
   Their marriage Dollar-Dance, Lucy pinned in paper bills
   crazy-happy to Elvis and La bamba. People singing
   ay ay ay ay Canta no llorres, drunken tears!
   Mariaches singing Las Mananitas. I forgot for a time
   how the weary dancers laugh anger away.

Sheryl Luna's poetry has appeared recently in Puerto del Sol, Poems & Plays, New Delta Review, Amherst Review, and elsewhere.

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Author:Luna, Sheryl
Publication:Prairie Schooner
Article Type:Poem
Date:Jun 22, 2002
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