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Egyptian dancer

Slowly, with intention to tempt, she sidles out
(a smile and a shake of bells)
in silver, tight as a fish’s, and a web
of thin-flame veils, and her brown buttery flesh
(but she is a mermaid with twelve metal tails)
glimpsed or guessed by seconds.
Slowly the insidious unison sucks her in,
and the rhythm of the drums,
the mournful feline quavering whose pulse
runs through her limbs; shivering like a bride
she lifts her arms into a lyre; there comes
a sense of nakedness
as the red gauze floats off; and of release.
She is all silver-finned:
it hangs from wrist and ankle, she is silver—
feather-crowned, tight silver across the breasts;
skirt of bright strips; and where in the fat forced up
her navel winks like a wound.
The dance begins: she ripples like a curtain;
her arms are snakes
—she is all serpent, she coils on her own loins
and shakes the bells; her very breasts are alive
and writhing, and around the emphatic sex
her thighs are gimlets of oil.
All the half-naked body, as if tortured
or loving with a ghost,
labours; the arms are lifted to set free
atrocious lust or anguish, and the worms
that are fingers crack as croupe or bust
or belly rolls to the drums.
Wilder: the drift of the sand-spout the wavering
curve of the legs grow a blaze
and a storm while the obsession of music hammers and wails
to her dim eyes to her shrieking desire of the flesh
that is dumb with an ecstasy of movement and plays
fiercely the squirming act
and sweat breaks out she is bright as metal while the skirt
spins like a flower at her hips
into the last unbearable glorious agony
between the lips and suddenly, it is over:
a last groan of the drum, panting she drops
into the darkness of past love.

Dance Poetry
A comprehensive anthology
Edited by Alkis Raftis
Copyright 2012