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Dancing to the Past

Saturday night’s Moonlight Serenade and I’m running late. No one waits for me in the foyer so I dash for the dining room, high-heels clacking on cheap linoleum. I hear his laughter first. That wide, toothy grin shines forth from chortle and guffaw. Sheer joy crinkles his sea green eyes into twinkling slits. One glance and I can’t help smiling back.

drums set red rhythms
with a tish, tish, tish, boom, crash –
hearts start pumpin’ fast

I walk toward him. He cannot sit still, waves his arms to express his thrill. Nearly ninety and, even now, sporting those Hollywood good looks: boyish cheeks, Marine Corps jaw, straight nose and etched lips. Those large hands long for a piano, tennis-shoes itch to dance.

bass plucks out blue notes
way down low under the skin –
feet tap-tappin’ now

Hearty despite infirmity, he sings though sadness beckons. I sing along, jitterbug with one of the food servers. This makes him cry, but he keeps smiling as big as the full moon. I return to him, winded, laughing.

wind soars through black wood;
brass, piano jump in last –
Benny at his best

I walk him back to his room, smoke a cigarette on the cage of a concrete patio as he gets changed for the night. You would think it would be difficult to picture that six-foot, barrel-chested charmer as he dozes, drooping in his wheelchair, but it’s easy. I kiss his cheek, whisper, “Goodnight, Daddy.”

music ends too soon;
listen, sing, dance to the past –
even death smiles



In A Moment

It’s when your entire skin hurts,
not just your heart, when tears

burn your eyes, singe your cheeks
as though a fissure deep inside

spews molten organic matter,
formed from your bones, tissue,

and you know you can go on,
or go crazy, or even die from it

but you can’t go back, can’t touch
what’s irretrievable, gone, because

the pieces you know you're supposed
to pick up, want to clutch close, cling to,

elude you, turn into a silvery liquid
like mercury that poisons your heart

with what ifs and irreversible nevers –
when nothing stays in your hands

long enough to solve the puzzle
you became the moment she died.



Fresh Snow

fresh snow
could turn this day
bearable; just a fine
covering of glistening white
would help

be gone away;
I need but one small sign
that sorrow will ever submit
to hope

surround me now
but I want the living
just once more in my aching arms
to kiss



                                                                                                © Wiltshire

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Loch Raven Review Winter 2005 — Vol. I, No. 2
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