The Light Fantastic
I am new to this dancing, no more
the child who darts like rain
in and out of the circle. A woman
now, I follow the others, trip along
as grandmother shapes the steps,
shift and bend like she does, begin
again. We young women shimmer
in motion. Grandmother leads,
we all follow fascinated, take up
grandmother’s dance, we echo
the moon, little lights in our steps
we shift sideways, bend waists.
In the row following grandmother,
I am learning her steps, making
each move shiny as I can, side turn,
step, clap and bend. Sun-shadow
pivot, bend and bow, side and back
forward now, with the shifting beams.
And the mothers weave their steps fantastic
no longer following but embroidering
dazzling threads in steps and hops, shimmies
and shudders. Yes, sometimes, a shudder
of colour will unstitch one of the mothers’
prisms within the dance’s warp and weft.
Variety in how we quilt the world, needing
the comfort of cloth. Conjure a cake box,
crushed, a lindy hop, tango tour
de force, two-step, or flamenco clap
and stomp. Step and sidestep, step and slide,
shift spectrum a nudged inch towards new.
We heed the slide of lightning bolt,
its rusty screech and creak. Grandmother
dances beside us, with us, close enough
for comfort, approximately equal
but never identical. But, close enough
for jazz, we improvise starbursts freely.