Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Two Women Dancing by Don Bogen

Don Bogen of Clifton is a professor at the University of Cincinnati and (like many poets we encounter this month) a longtime supporter of poetry and poets in Cincinnati. Here he puts words to movement, allowing us to be both within the speaker/observer and within the pattern of the dance.

Two Women Dancing
The way they mark this intricate beat in slow time,
not facing each other but side by side, angled,
hair swinging forward in doubled fluidity
as each glances just slightly over her left shoulder
and steps back, filling a small invisible box
on the floor, looks measured, Greek–I could imagine
them in robes, their long limbs firm lines beneath linen,
their hips directing the sway, each sandaled foot placed
delicately, deliberately in the pattern.

I feel the pulse too, but I’m frantic. The music
shoves me as if some god demanded a token
of complete abandon with every gesture.
Adrift, drowning, I flail–off time, lost, out of control,
my jittery eyes caught in amazement at how
they glide, slow as in strobe light but always moving
and synchronized, as when one arm mimes another
sweeping the air or both women dip from the waist
to reach down in one motion and lightly touch the floor.

This must be grace–learned and practiced, of course, but still
part of the body’s deepest connection with time,
and time’s with desire, as it builds and subsides
over and over in slow waves. They smile now, their eyes
half-closed. Bass, blips of rhythm guitar, snare taps–there
is so much they are floating on, with the shifting
poise of surfers. As they surrender to the god,
the fluent moves they make assert their mastery–
cool, shared, contained–over all his interwoven strands.

Don Bogen from The Manchester Review

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Author: Pauletta Hansel

Pauletta Hansel is a poet, memorist, teacher and editor. On April 15, 2016 she was named Cincinnati's first Poet Laureate. Pauletta is author of five poetry collections, Tangle (Dos Madres Press, 2015), The Lives We Live in Houses (Wind Publications, 2011), What I Did There (Dos Madres Press, 2011), First Person (Dos Madres Press, 2007) and Divining (WovenWord Press, 2002). Her poetry has been featured recently in journals including Talisman, Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, Appalachian Journal, Atlanta Review, Postcards Poems and Prose and Still: The Journal, and anthologized in Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia; Motif: Come What May; and Motif: All the Livelong Day. Pauletta leads community poetry workshops and retreats in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond, and has served as Writer-in Residence at Thomas More College in her native Kentucky. She is a co-editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary publication of Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. Pauletta received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.

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