I saw her dance and wanted to move just like her
but these are the feet I’ve got.
Don’t tell me I sway just as beautifully.
Don’t tell me the story of my artful surrender.
I was not artful. I did not surrender.
I clacked, awkwardly, toward the center of the wooden floor
until it occurred to me I wasn’t the student for this,
until I realized I wasn’t willing to learn the steps required.
I felt the rhythm long enough to understand
this was not the tool, the diving board, my launch pad
into greatness. Maybe I would not be great. Maybe I would
never know, even, how to be good, how to carry my body
through the world as if on a pillow of air.
Maybe I would forever limp away,
my heart flagellating itself with deprecation and gloom.
I was built for the accidental, for the elusory, for the split-second
grace of a cresting wave before it tumbles into obsolescence.
The ear-shaped pine cone tossed aside for its imperfection,
the dying pepper plant, broken glass, the sound of coughing
from the back room – these are my flawed cohorts,
my feckless playmates, the orchestra pit from which
an eccentric disharmony sneaks out after the professionals
have laid down their horns, gone outside to smoke a cigarette.
Once they’ve left, this is a place of derelict wonder,
of castoff elegance, of a world brimming with every exquisite
uncertainty, and in this room, I am never clumsy, or wrong or lost.
I am as close to home as ever.