Poetry, Vol. 5.3, Sept. 2011
Dance elective in my public school classroom:
the most out of the ordinary
Begins with a vain attempt
to squash desks into bookshelved walls.
Mine have the chairs attached.
Metal tubes that will later harness my English students
the manufacturer-approved distance
from their literature,
now are cumbersome to lift and smush.
Our nontraditional pre-warm-up creation,
a school furniture jigsaw puzzle.
But freedom flies across the open floor.
Unusual becomes necessary,
an essential igniting
of the school day: secluded in this transformed space,
cloistered behind the drawn door shade.
We are allowed to stand in this class, to face in all directions,
to ignore the board and look out the windows.
Feelings communicate, while specifics stay secret.
The security to be uninhibited,
embodiments of self-expression.
An older brother crashed and gone,
whose cemented age you’ll soon surpass,
An association you can’t shake in such a small town,
still sorrowful for their loss, your loss;
you dance for showmanship, not sympathy.
Socked feet skim the wooden flooring,
body and music meld into mutual rhythms,
forcing yourself to stay late
perfecting elements under your control.
We are a unison of individuals,
solid and stylized at once,
but this morning, performers become audience.
The traveling show outside upstages our residency:
a Texas Longhorn mother and daughter parade;
self-loosed from the mountain pasture,
they’ve taken to Main Street.
We steer away from
developpé, changement, and saut de basque
to focus on amble, swerve, and plod,
while notes, hand raising, lectures, and listlessness prevail
in structured, standard academia.
Through the panes we join
jetés over every passing car,
contractions away from swaying, spiked heads,
pirouettes changing our directions,
a more visceral version of Frogger.
Even the toughest
need new moves sometimes.
Hardy hooves, historically fever-resistant immune systems,
the invincibility complexes of teenagers:
Metalled, unfeeling autos shatter all,
within and without their cold bodies.
Freedom from butchers,
from school systems,
from societal strains,
admirable aims run amiss without advice.
We’re all staggering along
the yellow line.
At the bell,
the owners round their strays,
and I send out my herd,
with hopes of
safety, by stimulation,
without stifling corrals.