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Rumba — lady’s wrap

I’m a fox and he has his hands
on me. I step back, wild.
He moves closer, twists somehow
and I’m curled in his arm,
walking forward.

I have no idea how I got here.

She says, now turn her again
and he unwraps me like a candied chocolate.
An exotic pear, un-netted.
A hairpin slipped loose.
I try to dance away
but he catches me

I’d say I was lost but it would be a lie.
The music is a leash and he is
turning me again.
I’m trapped
against his other side, walking backwards,
dizzy as a maple seed.
He pivots
and I follow.
I am a kite on a string.
Horse and halter. He smiles into the wind
and I let him let me go
into a double chassé.
Suddenly I am a stray balloon.
A missing key.

A dropped penny, desperate for him
to scoop me back up.


Cha Cha — paseo

Everything new is strange.
She starts the music and my feet tangle
into his. My hands crooked.
He counts aloud so I know where we are
but this step is long as a river.
I try to swim but the trees look away in confusion.

We begin again: lady’s military turn, open break,
two more spins into the spot turn, walks, a kick and head flick.
She says, now the spiral curve, don’t forget
and this time he spins too before we meet
for the backward walk. Then he lets go. My arms flail.
We’re supposed to find each other
but my fingers are not graceful. His are not ready.
I wander like an ugly duckling—
What are all these flowers doing here?
Where is the water?

We practice until the river is littered with petals
and the trees have given up on us.
I don’t notice.
My hands point into the wind—
This way. Over here.
He stops counting to listen.
The petals are gone.

By late summer I’m spiraling my arms,
fingers arranged like blossoms on the grass.
He picks them up gently, lets go at the right moment
and I touch palms to trees as we promenade.
Kick. Flick our heads back.
The spirals, his hands perfectly arranged.
I spin and spin.

I am a late rose, kissing the wind.

I am a swan
dancing in the water.


Tango — medio corte

Stand closer, she says and I slot
against his thigh
as though no one can see us.
We don’t look at each other.
In fact, we push away: shoulders back,
heads arched. I pretend indifference.
He knows better.
When he turns me the first time I lean
so close his hip scars my body.
The second time I crawl
high enough to touch skin
and he’s perfectly frozen, for just a moment.

Our teacher claps. I don’t look at her.
I don’t look at him either but I can imagine
his face as we slip into pivots,
a promenade, the basic.
I am a cat, nonchalant as three o’clock.
He leads me across the room,
its mirrored wall transparent
as wind.
I am a feather.
Fluff on the lawn.
A slip of paper flirting towards
the corner until he grabs my wrist, locks
it against my spine, secure
as a fallen angel.

My body is frozen. I want to kiss him.

He opens his hand
and looks away.



Exposed rafters.
The dull back of the curtain shivers
near the line of miniature tap shoes abandoned
along the wall like beheaded dandelions. Sweat.
Flashing audio equipment staggered,
drunk in the corner.
Yellow duct tape. Knee pads.
Rhinestones piled like bubbles.
I’m in the wings, gut strapped into spandex.
Armor. He holds my hand so I don’t escape.
I’m ignorant as an unpainted mask.

She asks, do you know where the ballerina is hiding?
I point away and she darts into the secret tunnel,
fabric twisted in her wake like a flock of bats
spiraling out of the darkness.
I stare, transfixed as the curtain slivers apart
for just a moment: lights sharp as stars
against a faceless crowd.
Where is the phantom? I want to ask
but these shoes pinch as much as the hairpins.
I’ve no time to move the strap.
The curtain grinds open
as we slip into place.  


Christine Klocek-Lim received the 2009 Ellen La Forge Memorial Prize in poetry. She has four chapbooks: Ballroom - a love story (Flutter Press), Cloud Studies (Whale Sound Audio Chapbooks), How to photograph the heart (The Lives You Touch Publications), and The book of small treasures (Seven Kitchens Press). Her poems have appeared in Nimrod, OCHO, diode, Riffing on Strings: Creative Writing Inspired by String Theory, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net anthologies and was a finalist for 3 Quarks Daily’s Prize in Arts & Literature. She is editor of Autumn Sky Poetry, and her website is www.novembersky.com.