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.