The Purpose of Dancing
Three or four times a year they’d
move the rug, turn off the TV, and
put Big Band and Frank Sinatra records
on the phonograph.
In his yellowed t shirt, in one of her
two house coats and beaten slippers.
My brother and I would watch
from the couch.
When they fought it was dirty,
Bronx versus Hell’s Kitchen.
Never a “Screw yourself.” It was,
“Come look between my legs ‘cause
you ain’t getting any ever!”
“Close them legs - smells like the fish market in August.”
Some nights my brother and I would laugh
until it got scary and we’d bury our heads
under the covers and pillows.
At weddings and Bar Mitzvahs they were so smooth.
They were like the wind in the song, The Summer Wind.
They’d slide close and spin away,
hold each other, one body, glowing.
People would give them room,
the whole dance floor.
My brother asked once, after
we all put the rug back,
“How come you can’t be nice to each other
like when you’re dancing?”
My father smacked him in the head
then went down to the benches to smoke
and she went into the kitchen.
I told him he shouldn’t have asked.
How else does a truck loader and a cleaning
woman get to float above the shit?
About the author:
Michael Mark is a hospice volunteer and long distance walker. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Angle Journal, Belleville Park Pages, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Empty Mirror, Forge Journal, Lost Coast Review, New Verse News, Petrichor Review, Ray’s Road Review, Scapegoat Journal, Spillway, Red Booth Review, Toe Good Poetry, Word Soup End Hunger, Wayfarer and other nice places. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.