poem: how to dance at a club without feeling guilty

Remember that morning, the way your body
hissed its way out of the door, whispered
that tonight it would need to dance.
Remember how long it had been.
A month? Really?
How old your body has grown with you,
crackling more than either of you admit.
This is not college, when a three day weekend
meant three nights of nonstop dancing
as if the mafia had tracked you down
and was kind enough to inform you
you had two hours left before
they removed your legs.
Yet even this long, one thing
remains the same: you don’t go to the club
for talk. There is no skirt short enough
to distract you from the command of
a decent DJ and dance floor. You learned
to adapt to the space, like water in precise motion;
a break beat’s jeet kune do.

Remember that morning,
when your body had reached an agreement with
your schedule and wallet, when you knew for sure
that you’d need to conserve your energy for about
eighteen more hours. It felt like those days
when you knew your lover was waiting for your
bed that night, and you knew both of you spent the
day trying not to moan in front of your boss,
when your hands slipped from the keyboard to
your bared belly, and you invented replays
of the sweating to come.

You’d save all your breath for the night,
limiting all hip movement to what was absolutely
necessary. This is what you prepared for that morning,
envisioning that drunken dance floor
like you’d once memorized your lover’s
favorite supper. And all day, you’d ignore the voices
in your head, admonishing your silliness,
because the dance floor is no place for a church,
and no genuine passion could ever merge with the booming
remains of top 40 hip hop’s last gasp of dignity.
But no onlooker need see how you extract the
fossil of Liberian djembes from Yeezy’s beat;
how Rihanna’s voice forms an accidental violin,
coursing through your limbs like the rainmaker
offers sweat to the earth after digesting the lightning.
No one has to see the piano tuner
tweaking the keys just enough
to salvage a sonata.
No one must recognize the lover’s hands
cradling the bruised face
til her voice says, yes you are enough,
we should have met ten years ago,
but we are barely enough.
The DJ doesn’t know the texture of your
swaying hips, and neither of you care.
The body made its demand,
and for the first time in a month,
you gave in.
It’s the only time that month you will
surrender to anything.
This is the Muslim conversion you wouldn’t
make to rescue your affair.
This is the sawed off legs of the piano
when your hearing has gone.
And every morning, when you remember
you are still married to your body,
there are nights when aching bone
is not reason enough.


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