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(for Lan-lan King)


The dancer quarrels with solid air,

For that one foot of surface where she stood,

By the bold knife blade of her slashing arm

She carves herself as from a block of wood.


Pity the poor furred cat

Who needs four feet to do

Such leaps across the floor

As dancer does with two.


Pity the poor proud dancer who can give

Death to her ease, so that the dance may live,

Who makes, with pain to every body part,

From perfect will power her imperfect art.


Pity the poor rain that only falls

Down from the cloud-caressing sky, then crawls

Through dirt and over street. The dancer falls

Then rises like an oriole over walls.


Paul Engle

Dance Poetry
A comprehensive anthology
Edited by Alkis Raftis
Copyright 2012