Wednesday, November 24, 2021

My Mother Made Me

Poem Day 24

My Mother Made Me

My Mother made me
take social dance as a junior.
When I questioned her why—
at least a dozen times,
causing her anger to singe my ears—
she said, You will need to know
how someday, trust me.”

Like a dutiful son that I was,
I signed up for the class—grudgingly, hesitating.
The registrar raised her eyebrows just a little.
I nodded, grimacing at my plight,
sealed for the semester,
trying to convince myself it was okay
since it still counted as P.E.

While my friends took real PE, played
b-ball on the other side of the divider in the gym,
I learned to dance the two-step, the fox trot,
the waltz, the polka with—catch this—
girls, not the prettiest in the batch but passable.
I had to touch them—hand in their hand,
my hand on their waist or the small of their back,
our bodies ostensibly moving with the music.

At first, my shyness caught me by surprise,
and I didn’t look my partner in the eye,
just at my feet, whispering
and simultaneously counting
1 2 together and 1 2 together.

Sometimes the bouncing stopped across the way,
several eyes peering around the great divide.
We heard snickers, then bouncing again,
amid uproarious laughter.
I kept counting and looking down
at my size 12 feet stuffed in Tony Llamas.

By midterm, I tore my ligaments, skiing
an out-of-sync polka at Kelly’s Canyon in the dark.
I told the ski patrol snow snakes grabbed me
from behind, pulled me down
and twisted my ankles for good measure.

For a couple of weeks, I sat on the hard bleachers,
watching the dancers cavort on our side of the gym.
Once my walking cast was on, I charged forward,
not minding too much the dancing, the attention.
I could actually dance in a cast.

Then a substitute took over for a week,
saw my cast, cooed dismay at my bum luck.
Wincing like it hurt, I shook my head and succumbed
to the opportunity, didn’t say a word,
just slipped around the corner of the divider
and danced my own dance—
shooting hoops with the boys.


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