Dancing Through the Ages
You see her & it might as well be a film projection.
Old woman, white buttermilk hair, unable to walk.
We are always seeking new things, new ways to love,
new clothes to wear, new sounds that excite us.
Perhaps, the bravest thing a soul does is grow old.
We all age, but none know more of the grit incarnate of aging
than those whose lives have been centered on movement.
To dance is to be out of yourself. Slow dances,
unplanned, allow bodies to whisper beautiful silences to one another.
Those who have danced throughout our lives know
it’s ripped off bandages, it’s proved no one needs to save us,
it’s asked someone to be in the middle of the room with us
and be absolutely human. It’s torn us from rage
and whispered truths the mouth could not say,
“I’ve hurt you.” “I love you.” “You could never be that broken.”
There’s a picture of an elderly ballerina watching a strong, limber
ballerina practice in a dusty old dance space. The young ballerina
almost appears unaware of the presence of the old ballerina.
Perhaps when we are young we are incapable of seeing what we might become.
There is beauty in the young ballerina’s blindness to caution,
yet the allure of an old dancer is the wonder of a lived-in body.
The subtlety, grace and patience it holds within tendons and bones.
The old dancer plays the instrument she is. The young
is forced to play to vanity, to the cat call of applause.
As we age, we all learn this, but none better than the dancer,
whose life has been so connected to the body.
I love watching old dancers as there is the urgency and passion,
that once inside, never leave a dancer’s body.
The older dancer has the fluidity of letting go, mixed in,
and it is magic to the recipe that is the freedom of dance.
The feet do as the ears hear, and in every dance
there is something being said. Perhaps, this is why the image
of finding love, beauty, strength, across a dance floor endures.
It’s knowing the true rhythm of the heart. This poem
will be left behind, with books, photographs, songs.
In dancing, nothing is. There is just that moment.
It opens like a bud for one performance of a lifetime,
then closes. If you miss it,
there is not a chance to witness that same dance bud again.
It is the sculpture created and smashed.
It is in dancing we seduce ourselves and each other.
As I stare at the old woman in the picture,
I don’t see broken dreams or anger.
I see a woman that knows only a heart terrified of breaking
has never danced. The more we dance,
the braver our hearts become.