The Women Who Dance Alone

Why do our shawls never slip from our shoulders
as we turn and turn and turn.
Our feet know the dance, our hearts know our husbands.

In our red blue green skirts we dance
and the whole dry landscape flowers
until we cannot believe how bountiful a desert can be,
bountiful as remembering great tenderness
in the midst of war.

Dark hair, long braids, we dance alone
and the whole village knows
we ache for our husbands.

Strange to be dancing, hurting
in bone, marrow, fingertip. We will always be married
to our husbands, see them everywhere,
carrying Ana to bed when she’s too tired to walk. Andres

turns to me with open arms, his body fragrant
and familiar. I know every muscle, warmth of his chest,
large strong hands, dark brush of his eyebrows, his sweat,
the smooth torn skin of his back.

Soldiers see my husband safe in my arms again, dancing
as though at our wedding. How close he holds me,
longs for me as my full skirt whirls about my legs.

Dry earth of this village sifts through children’s fingers.
We are beautiful and dangerous
as wild birds brightening the desert.


|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| © Margaret Szumowski