April 4, 2011

National Poetry Month: How to Dance When You Do Not Know How to Dance

Today's poem, in honor of National Poetry Month, because we can never have enough good poetry in the world.  

How to Dance When You Do Not Know How to Dance

You and I fit together
like two millstones, and oh the music

we make of grist, going round
and round the same

arguments (taxes, laundry,
the leaky

faucet, the unremarkable
disasters of marriage).

My feet are two ugly badgers
that hide their faces

in the dirt when they see
clouds tip-toeing

above the lake.
The homely trees in winter
crack and fall

into one another: that is how I must
look to you as I gather

dirty plates to the sink.
You say, Talk to me about

the weather. I say that once
a tornado carried

a birdcage with a live canary inside
a quarter mile, the cage
flying, the bird flying

inside of it. I don’t know how
to make the faucet

hold back its drip. I try
to open a bottle of wine

and half the cork breaks off
inside the neck. But you, Love,
you ignore

the flecks of cork floating
in your glass, the way

I teeter and reach out a hand
for something that isn’t there.

Love, I will mate the limp socks. I will fold

the shirts so their sleeves
wrap around their flat,

empty chests. I will drip words
into your ear as you fall asleep.

I will carry boxes up and down
the basement steps all day.

I will pour another glass of wine,
and we will dance the slick sidewalk two-step,

the lassoed-calf flop,
the chain gang shuffle, the all-thumbs

the fish-out-of-water jive.

~ Nick Lantz

Nick Lantz is an award-winning poet, playwright, and teacher living in Gettysburg, PA.

Thanks to The Rumpus for introducing me to Nick Lantz and this poem.
Image by The University of Iowa Libraries from Flickr, under a Creative Commons license.

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