Wednesday, April 6, 2011
When Your Mother Goes Square Dancing
What does age do to the wallflower?
Does it make it any easier?
She leaves in her elastic-waist jeans
and orthotic shoes, having stood before
the mirror for only a minute--
long enough to draw on lips and to
run a brush through her silver hair.
Every Thursday I consider playing chauffeur
because I fear she won't get there safely.
Not long ago, our cars passed, I waved
and she seemed oblivious. I was traffic
and not the familiar, her daughter.
Does she notice the sliver moon and
the clatter of stars above her? Does she
sing along to the radio? At 64, does
she sit in her car, steaming up windows
until courage is a corsage she can wrap
around her wrist? Does she mingle
or sit in some dark corner alone?
She tells me she is one of the young ones,
the swinging single surrounded by
wedding bands sunk into skin. These are
swans who mate for life, and she
sashays left or do se dos
and someone swings her only
when the caller says so. It's hard to recall
a time she truly had a partner.
I wonder what cruel luck allows some
to dance all their lives, over so many
waxed wooden floors and what sweet sadness
must she suppress in order to keep flying solo
knowing each outstretched hand is artifice,
offered for these few fun hours.She never sours
of trying and told me once that I should come with her.
She said, "You'd like it. There are people your age."