Best of the Net 2012  

In Defense of Dancing

Tonight, they leave the curtains open,
         the lights on. From kitchen to living room,
they dance. Two women, bent with years,

sway in the orbit of a Bach sonata.
         They move like this, as if nothing
could be wrong with the ache

to elevate, two bodies coming
         so close—a single breath warms
between their lungs. They dance.

They dip and gyrate—the record warping
         as each note spins its own blasphemy,
each crescendo shined into climax.

Look how they are reckless in this taming
         of gravity, spilling in and out
of duende. And should she place

on the other's ear the white lily perfected
         with memory, her hands, in their need to keep
from falling, find comfort

in the waist no man has troubled—
         but should, also, in this nightmare
the neighbors look in with terror

crushed on their faces, some saint's name
         fogging the window, fists pounding
the door, the sound of a match lifting

the hiss from an oiled torch, and should
         in this nightmare, there be no nation
under God, but only this house

with its one lit window threatening
         joy, should two women, full of nothing
but heat and metronomes, begin

to seal what's left of I love you
         between their lips—tell me
you will not forget your faith

in heartbeats, you who are human
         and must falter in the presence
of such beauty, tell me you have dreamed

of lifting your left foot closer
         to flight, that you, too, would die happiest
by music, by drowning in the mouth

         that swallows—gladly—your song.

- Ocean Vuong (from Guernica Magazine)