by Ruth Asch
Dance, who was once part of me—
stabbed in the foot, one small point pierced—
with bloodied toes whirled on her way:
She left a void.
I sit, a void; if voids can contain sorrow.
I build a wall of silence, to keep the ghost away.
For if rhythm should play,
it stirs a double agony:
the wound of emptiness, betrayal,
and a desire which throbs
from deep within, along each limb:
thwarted burning, roused, and trapped.
I cannot spill the spell of music
through this body here,
yet it shakes me—
who once flew
along a breeze of melody,
rocked on phrases sway and swell,
swung on the stem of time.
Dance to me dead—
I am marionette: wooden yet
tugged and twitched despite myself
on threadbare strings of distant syncopation.
With silence I must keep you out, oh ghost Dance.
Years stumble by.
Dance passed on, lightly, lightly…
now through my poetry the deft feet patter:
a fluttering spirit straining to float free;
seizing, pushing words,
smashing the clear thoughts;
a gauze-white face with pointed rhymes,
tightening rhythm’s embrace.
a hint of haunting music—and
it trips the tongue and steals the breath—
My Muse has put the red shoes on
and dances to her death.
Ruth Asch is a writer with one volume of poetry in print, Reflections, and poems of widely varying style and subject, but always musical quality, appearing in many literary journals. She was 2015 top winner of the Maria W. Faust Sonnet contest. She currently lives near Madrid in Spain, where she has been teaching, absorbing a little local culture, and caring for her husband and four children.