Poem of the Month
Kate Bernadette Benedict
Preparation for the Dance
Across the way, in a city building
twin to our own venerable brownstone building
a male dancer does a spectacular barre.
Rubberman, he grips a heel and lifts his leg
to vertical, splitting like a snapped wishbone
but remaining, by some miracle of sinew, whole.
I lean closer to the glass for a better view,
wondering aloud how the human body can do such things.
It is then that you take me in hand.
Right there, by the unshaded window, you move on me.
You plié: our sinuous hips are level.
I relevé, easing the removal of my blouse.
Our tongues flick fast tendus.
Now we set to floor work,
our limbs bending, our backs arching:
we are tearing apart in our deepest tissues.
When we are done, I wonder aloud how the human body
can do such things, and do them over and over
like that dancer rehearsing the same moves over and over,
in quest of the perfection of his form,
cultivating pliability, staying ready
for whatever role the company bestows on him.
Maybe, if we keep at it, keep persisting
in this elemental exercise, we’ll be ready too—
for pain, for joy, for death’s inevitable moment.
Lover, partner, husband of twenty years,
aren’t we tireless, aren’t we lithe?—
and lifelong practitioners of a right discipline.
Originally published in ELF (Eclectic Literary Forum), 1992 and in Here from Away, 2003