Friday, August 17, 2012

Bitter dance

A different kind of writing exercise, inspired by a line in a Bob Dylan song (sung by Emmylou Harris) entitled “Every Grain of Sand”

I have gone from rags to riches
in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer's dream,
in the chill of a wintry light,
In the bitter dance of loneliness
fading into space,
In the broken mirror of innocence
on each forgotten face.

She put the phonograph on the turntable—an old recording of Strauss waltzes that had belonged to her father. And in her nightgown and white gloves, her feet bare, she began to dance across the wood floor, a bitter dance of loneliness. She wanted to dance, to move in rhythm to the music, her arms held in perfect waltz position as if she were dancing with a partner. She smiled like she had been taught to smile at him. As far as she knew, her partner was a phantom who didn’t exist and never would. Her smile belied the ache within her, beyond her heart, beyond her empty arms, deep into the core of her flesh and spirit. “Where are you?” she whispered. “I don’t know if I can wait any longer.” She played the record over and over and danced with the vacant stranger until she could no longer hold up her arms, until her legs ached, until her smile faded. “He mustn’t see me like this,” she said. “I don’t want him to think I’m an old sourpuss.” Sometimes she clung to the hopeless romantic dream she had dragged through her youth. And sometimes she prayed to the Lord to empty her, to purge that ominous yearning. The yearning had lost all reasonable hope. She wrapped herself in a quilt and lay on her bed, thinking she had to remember to water the tomato plants in the morning before she left for work.

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