Skip to main content

As Dancers Will

ISSUE:  Autumn 1960

Stretched to passion by such muscles as he’s earned,
The dancer leans inviolate against the ground’s grave pull;
Caught in a now not visible
Craft, he moves in air he’s learned
To know won’t break or buckle,
And like that whirring bird who hangs on nothing but a honeysuckle
Smell, he leaps, and rides it out on some peculiar faith
He’ll stay.

So the water walkers must have once begun,
Practicing in the shallow places by the trees, and all
But one went down. Now small birds fall,
Wine is wine the common sun
Has gotten in the fruit, graves
Are laced for long decay; Lazarus returns each summer now, but raves
In vain about a worm he knows, wearing through his borrowed clay

As one who would lie down again, and will, as
Dancers will, falling out their long, sad arcs to roots below.
I do not want to see them go
Until such leaping flesh has
Leapt once more for light through mad
Nijinsky’s window—leapt for love, to find in darkness, and that which had
Seemed nothing, something moving, as water moves, present—
As day

Light is ever and everywhere present under the evening.
Now dancers, ride out on this moving thing,
Here practice your falls and turns
In some dark sun you’ve seen that burns
You back to bone, to your essential heart
Where love and form were found together once
Fused in that moment’s perfect art.


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Recommended Reading