Change, growth, Letting Go, Love, Poetry, Relationships, spirit

Listen Instead

Barzana Dawn Dance

Don’t call.
That’s the only thing. Do anything else at all.
But don’t call.
Eat too much peanut butter. Water the plants. Walk the dog in the pouring rain.
Don’t call.
Empty the suitcase. Start the laundry. Place the new pottery dish in its place.
Think about him again.
Don’t call. Continue reading “Listen Instead”

body, Creativity, Growing Up

Drink Loose the Noise

What young self didn’t know was that cool is a lid that screws down tight on the swelling delight of yes.  From the edge of her ancient eye, older self notices women in the dark corners of the bar bouncing in their seats.  Girls titter near a post trying not to sway — girls who are surely women but seem so far from their fullness.

The dude in an oversized plaid suit and orange ponytail hollers into a microphone while the bassist ducks his eyes under his fedora and yanks on steel strings.  Two spaghetti-armed boys blow brass right through the back wall.

Older self stands and strips off her sweater.  She steps toward the unnamed sister, the one in a cherry red tank top and spiked gray hair. She touches her arm and draws her onto the space in the center of the room.  The worn Persian rug there is a far cry from a welcome mat, but carpet is no great challenge.  Years earlier, she sent her young selves scurrying off to road-test every surface. Concrete, rooftop, mountaintop, pier.  Boardroom, waiting room, snowfall, bed.  Every floor is a dance floor when it’s time to dance.

It’s always time to dance.

She pops her hip and snaps her hand, beckoning to the one across the room who’s been having trouble sitting still.  They are three now.  Soon they are five.  Soon nine.

Low ceilings press in on the battered cafe.  Amateur pencil sketches hang crooked the walls. Light shifts and a gleam slices across the bowl of the saxophone.  Soon it’s a glittering ballroom.  Soon the pulse of the Cotton Club on a Saturday night.

The wall of dudes collectively holds confines itself to straight faces and non-committal postures until one man, pushing 70 easy, steps into and sheds 10 years. The young women form a ring of cool, turning their taut backs out for protection.  The rest shimmy and grin knowing there is no outside and no in.  Guarding one’s soft parts is a survival skill for certain,  but the older ones have learned the taxonomy of danger.  They can differentiate battlefield from playground now.  It wasn’t always so clear.

Here, the belly is free to roll towards the snare’s smash and crack.  That’s lightning for sure, but older self unfurls anyway inside the grounded body of her scars.  She twists the lid loose and drinks the song’s bright rain.  She is growing older still.  Time is running out, so she runs out into it.  She fills her bones until they spill over with dance.


 

body, Creativity, Living in the Moment

This Dance

Simone Forti

Only after the herd thunders past, then the chewing snapping locust swarm, then the boulder storm, only after all of these have carried themselves off into the collapsing distance does the gesture peek out from its hushed cave.

The ribbon unfurls from my wrist. A glass staircase bears the weight of fear. A feral pup  in its winter wool climbs to the cliff edge and readies its throat.

The wing, first opening, closes.

Opens again.  Continue reading “This Dance”

Learning, Mindfulness, Relationships

Frame

swing dance feet

He walks the dog while I pull on tights and boots. He leads me to the car then drives us through mist and rush hour traffic to a studio were a purple chandelier glitters in greeting.

We stumble through box step and salsa until motion from inside carries us like small waves lapping. Slow, quick quick, slow. His elbow lifts just enough to suggest an invitation. I twirl once around a maypole of light before alighting one beat shy of our next shared step.

The instructor praises us on our gaze. He can’t know our determination to master seeing. We speak across night, three years of two homes, voice as proxy for proximity. When we are together, we sometimes sit near each other and pluck up the threads of formerly disembodied conversation and spin them around the shape of us, looking, looking. We fill our stores with images that will warm us later. These eyes are accustomed to bridging the gap.

On this polished floor, our bodies have a new exchange. Slow, slow, quick quick. While I listen through his skin for the lead, it’s his eyes that signal our direction. These lessons build on a language we already speak. When parted, we fall into step. When still,  we are dancing.

 

Friends, Living in the Moment, Music

Dance Myself to Sleep

The remarkable sifter and curator, DMF, over at SyntheticZero posted a comment to Everything is Music with a link to Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Paul Simon playing Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes.

On the eve of an unwelcome anniversary and bracing for another night fighting off the devils that eat sleep, here I am in bed now, singing and dancing — yes, dancing alone in bed! — with the warmest thrill from smile to toes.

Now this word from Ernie & Bert:

Thank you for the most buoyant lullaby a girl could hope for, DMF. (And thank you, lambies.)


 

 

Fitness, Things I Can

70. Things I Can See: Her Beat, Mine

Two Women Dance

The girl who drove the Volkswagen bus plastered in Dead stickers fell off the face of the earth after graduation. West is what I heard. Community bordering on cult, new name. I pictured her in a homespun dress drawing water from the well for backwoods apostles.

She popped up on Facebook — as we all do — 25 years later. No bonnet, no copper kettle. Her profile shot is blazing female Gumby, bronzed flesh arched in a yoga bridge against the setting sun. The other photos are strappy heels, flashing sequins, rhumba beats and a man in a fedora testing the limits of her psoas muscle by pressing her stretched leg flat against his chest before dropping her into a dip.

Continue reading “70. Things I Can See: Her Beat, Mine”

Creativity, Music, Things I Can

64. Things I Can Lift: These Arms

Last night, I danced at my cousin’s wedding. Danced like a toddler does, right up front.

Like this.

I’m guessing everyone else out there enjoyed Sara Bareilles’ music video for “Brave” at some point in the past two years. I just today discovered it on About Face, a website promoting positive body image.

Just as she intends, Bareilles’ video shivers open a smile that leaks tears.

Remember the game you used to play in the doorway? You stand facing out and press the backs of your hands hard against the doorjamb. You push there, muscles working, and count. Twenty, thirty, one hundred. Then you step out, and after a breath, marvel as they rise.

As if invisible threads.

As if a secret deal to suspend the laws of physics.

For most of the hours in most of the days, I push hard against something. The clock, a hunger, my doubts, someone’s needs.

The deadline breathing fierce at the base of my skull.

The flashing cursor, the buzzing phone.

The undertow.

It seems a whole life becomes this pressed angle, wedged here in a narrow doorway. I barely recall the name for air.

Until song calls me out, and shows me again the secret to tricking gravity.

 

Music, Things I Can

30. Things I Can Tap: The 4/4

Even on a day that saps breath, beat
remains.
Night, home, a high whine
sears the deep ear. When veering toward bed
or bread or any
webbed polyfil
to muffle
the last throb of momentum, habit
is the last hope.
Turn towards
Calabria, thud and sway
into currents
already in motion,
churn flesh inside
out. Turn up
here like sleepwalking
to Messina, like emerging
at the first dawn.

Children, Home, Things I Can

16. Things I Can Mirror: His Moves

They call it a little before 8:00pm. Another snow day, even if it doesn’t snow. I pull out a foam mattress. He shoves the coffee table into the middle of the room and wedges the easy chair next to it. “Do we need music?” I ask.

“Oh, yeah.” His eyes are as bright as meteors. Motion ripples up from his bones. He slides across the bamboo floor after the dog.

Pitbull. Shakira. Usher. Something from the pop radio station preset that rides with us on every car trip. The rhythm snakes into a hula-hoop, yanking my hips into orbit. The coils I stash deep in the balls of my feet spring free.

Outside, warm rain coats sidewalks that will freeze to glass by morning.

“Mom, look at this!” He does the wave, his legs spread. Shoulders dip-dip-roll from a torso that refuses a center. “And this!” He jumps, spinning, landing with his rear end poking left-left-right tracking the beat.

Watch out, my outfit’s ridiculous
In the club lookin’ so conspicuous

My arms are the sea, my core a spout. I spin around, poke my butt out.

He crosses his arms, squints, leans, nods. Suburban OG.

How ya like me now?

I jut out my chin. Defy.

He weaves his arms around around themselves. Casts the strands.

Take that, rewind it back

I thread a cocoon with mine. Split the husks.

Palms flash. Arms sweep. Spine curls. Hip scoops.

Li’l John got the beat that make your booty go

CLAP

Motion begets motion.

Mine follows his.
His follows beat follows pulse
follows urge
follows birth.

Face opens. Eyes streak
like voice across skin.

“Like this! Do it like this!” He cries.

I do.
I do it just like this.

 

Happy Days, Living in the Moment, Music

Happy 100 Days: 2

I stumble into the house, dump the groceries, take note of the dishes in the sink, and walk the dog. I tell myself, “After I fill her water bowl, I can relax.” I fill the water bowl. “As soon as I’ve put away the groceries, I can sit down.” I put away the groceries. “I’ll just start the laundry and then I’ll read the paper.” I start the laundry. “I could just do the dishes quick.”
 
Before crossing the kitchen, I turn on the radio. Bug’s favorite station is programmed: 94.7, all pop, all the time. I stop halfway to the sink. The music comes at me in a crash, sweeping me off my feet more completely than a riptide. There is no staying put on this shifting shore.I don’t even know the song even though I have heard it a dozen times. It doesn’t matter.
 
I dance.
 
The cat is yowling to go out. The dishes are waiting. The suitcases are not unpacked and there are five unanswered voice messages on the phone. Every bit of it tips off the edge of the earth and churns to the splintering deep. I ride the black and starlit crest of a wave.
 
I dance.
 
Through one song. Then another. My eyes are closed as I move there on the kitchen tile, wedged between the table and the counters. Still in my coat, I lift my arms and let the rhythm move my spine, swerve my hips, and turn me in small revolutions on this swelling stage. The undertow carries me further towards that misted moon.
 
I dance.
 
Three songs. Part of a fourth. Then, I feel sand beneath my feet. I tumble to dry land. I come back to earth. I stand there in the empty house and notice that the contents of the place have all come back to where they were before, yet they are somehow off by the slightest degree. They exist just beyond my immediate grasp. Everything has landed where it happens to be and not one bit of it needs me.
 
Forget the dishes. Forget the messages. I go upstairs and put on my comfiest sweats. The rest of the evening is for a soft couch and love songs. The rest, just for me.