Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The real meaning of romance . . .

My great aunt tells a similar story about my grandpa and grandma--a bit of romantic nostalgia through rose colored glasses . . .

My Parents' Dance Lessons, 1945

In the story my aunt tells,
this is how they met. It's
September, the war just over,
the air crisp as the creases
in my father's khaki pants,
bright as his Bronze Star,
pungent as the marigold
my mother tucks behind one ear,
the night they both sign
up for dance lessons
"the Arthur Murray way"
at the Statler Hotel
in downtown Philly.

He's there to meet girls, of that
I am certain, and she's there
for romance, though I don't think
that's what she would say,
both of them looking for something
as intangible as the cigarette smoke
that rises in old, deckle-edged photos—
everyone tough, glamorous, vampy.

Perhaps there are dance cards?
Or maybe partners are assigned?
The truth is, no one really knows
about the moment when their glance
catches and snags across the room,
a fishline pulling taut as they
place their feet on Murray's
famous "magic footsteps," and start
the slow luxury of reeling one another in.
Music spills from a scratchy
Victrola as she places her hand
on his shoulder, feels the slight
pressure of his palm against her back,
and they begin to move together,
her hesitant steps following
his over-enthusiastic swings,
until they are both lost in
"The More I See You" or "I Don't
Want to Walk Without You Baby,"
the future stretching out before them
like a polished oak dance floor.

I don't know if they went back
for more lessons, or how they learned
to dip and twirl and slide together,
though I once saw my father spin
my mother completely around—her skirt
flaring out around her like the bell
of a silk lamp shade—just monthsv before she died. It's their story
after all, the one with a secret
hidden deep inside it like all
love stories—bigger than we
are or will ever be—music
from a Big Band coming up
in the background, playing
"You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To,"
while our parents swoop and glide
in the spotlight, keeping back
just enough of the story to make us wonder.

"My Parents' Dance Lessons, 1945" by Alison Townsend, from The Blue Dress. © White Pine Press, 2003. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

No comments:

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing
My friend Pantera with Tahoe & Me

Tahoe and a new friend at the signing