The Dancer

December 22, 2008

She is perfect, swallows up the room like oxygen. Her skin, lit by orange and purple, seems impossibly cast in bronze. All that was before and what comes next is forgotten. There is obscenity all around me, but I only see her. She moves like a gazelle among swaying straw, taller than a tower from where I sit, and spins the pole like a whirlwind. She moves so close to me I can smell her sweat, but then moves away again. I tap the floor with a twenty-dollar bill and wait for it to happen. Her neck and back snaps like a snake, moving downward and unfolding again to the unbreakable pounding of music. She kneels to me and I feel her breath on my chin as I close my eyes and take her in. I command her to stretch on the floor and then sketch her on thick white paper, naked and free. Then tied to a pole between twenty caged lions in circus, the ring-leader shouting and whipping. She’s posing on a small pedestal in the midst of the circle, as the orchestra starts into a weeping requiem, the horns and accordions bellowing in minor, in and out of the repeating three-four mechanics of the steel drums. Everyone’s ready and drooling, waiting for the release. As the bell rings and the lions are freed, a hero appears at the crest of the audience, handsome and young, approaching her quickly in a cloud of sawdust. He fights off the lions with his golden saber and then clenching her tight, leap towards the the ceiling, slipping out through the small hole in the roof.

I can touch her too if I want, but something holds me back. My arm weakens when I reach for her, wanting to feel whatever heat drives her. As she spreads her legs and folds them around my neck, the sensuality of her perfect dynamic control is almost too much causing a hint of shame in me, and instead of looking straight into the depth of her, I focus on her eyes and mouth. This unexpected inability to take her with my eyes, a minor rejection, seems to frighten her. She untangles herself and gives me a confused almost hurt look and finishes her act, sliding back to the tail of the stage and then finally disappears behind the black curtain. The girls after her seem only as a vulgar afterthought, strained, trained and anonymous.

There is now a sadness in me so great it fills my presence like cancer. And I don’t know if it is because of what she commands, her excellence or the sensation that it is all there is to it, to her and to this moment.

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