SAMBA

by Susan Donnelly


I think it's a samba


they're playing in the prom tent,


as I watch from the lilac bushes


at the edge of the quad.


My feet start to move


experimentally, testing


the rhythm. Samba?


Or rumba? Latin, anyway.


Not that the prom kids care.


They're just swing dancing,


pulling each other around.


Here's where I saw the comet


after my father died. A blur,


like one of those whirled-out gowns.


I wouldn't be young, that's for sure,


tense and radiant, pinning on flowers.


But am I pathetic, or mad -- alone in the dark,


growing older, doing the samba?


It doesn't feel so. On his honeymoon cruise


my father was named by the bandleader


"the perfect samba type." A family joke,


but maybe he was, at that:


not tall, dark-haired, taking on weight


with age and responsibility. Just fit,


perhaps, for the samba,


its dip and lowslung


jump-slide forward


then back, that I practice now


into the scratchy lilac,


marking the soft soil.



Susan Donnelly is the author of (1985) and The Ether Dome (2000).


All material copyright © 2000 . All rights reserved.


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