The line of girls anathema,
pale summer dresses, conspicuous makeup,
no single expression of welcome:
I sit behind you in math,
he says to the invited
in every moment of wordlessness.
Want to dance? Sure it’s lonely
not dancing. Or is his loneliness
not unlike the loneliness of those unattended?–
to ask and be turned back
no worse than not asked at all?
Want to dance? He’s well-liked
by family and friends, and he has dreams
that take him beyond this gym,
less dance hall than basketball court,
beyond rock-and-roll to something future.
But he’s asking only to dance.
An invitation to enter the floor,
nothing permanent, nothing personal
beyond a few steps to the beat he draws
from the history of rock-and-roll.
Isn’t the breath of the dancing girls ginger?
Standing on guard they both wait and don’t wait.
The evening moves on the heat of the rhythm.
Want to dance? is what he must remember,
nothing more. Hand in her hand,
hand on her hip through the conspicuous beat
should they dance–Do you want to?–
down the line of girls. He sees their darkened eyes,
their legs moving already. Dance?