The Dance

My father-in-law died from Alzheimers this week. He died peacefully in the hands of a facility full of life and hope and angels dressed in flesh. And though, unmistakably, Alzheimer’s is a hideous and heart-wrenching disease. To those of you living out this life with your loved ones, my heart goes out to you. Yet, I am thankful that this disease is mercifully forgetful, for the one living in its tangled grip. And for the ones watching it play out, dare I say, in struggling past the initial shock and grief, there can sometimes be found – even just briefly – beauty in the ashes. I pray you have moments of beauty, albeit different and stark and always sad, but beauty nonetheless.

In the early years my husband and I cared for Dad at home, until we couldn’t anymore… This poem is the dance we danced. 

 

astaire (1)

We dance this dance
you and I
between magic
and tragedy
and the innocence of life
reduced to a Saturday picture show
whose cutting room floor we waltz gently upon
strewn with
images and scripts
and tangled nests of
stories…

those reel too real stories
that circle tirelessly
and feed endlessly
onto Silver Screens of nickel talkies
and kerosene-lit rooms
spliced with fiddle-played tunes
and a dad who hunts badgers on sunlit prairies
with his 10-year-old son
softshoeing closely beside

On this dance floor we dip
and in dipping we slide
into The Great War
of a 17-year-old sailor
fueled by honor
and duty
and a dream of life at sea                                                                                                                 haunted by Japanese boys with eyes too big and wanting

to forget

Swinging to a different song
we twirl through manhood
past marriage, and fatherhood, and too many years
sliced and forgotten
on Sundowner’s cutting room floor                                                                                                      buried
too far beyond reach to protect

so we glide and sachet and tap past all the madness

… and we gently circle back

 

to Saturday’s picture show and its nickel talkies
and this waltz                                                                                                                                       between magic
and tragedy
and the innocence
of a mind
brought back to simpler memories

 

of Life that keeps dancing on

astaire (1)                                                                                      Dance free now, Dad. Dance free.

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6 thoughts on “The Dance

  1. Jane! I was so excited to come read your blog and promptly SPACED it. Until just now. Oh, it’s so wonderful! I love both posts. I can’t believe what a great poet you are. I am so moved and filled with admiration. You rock, Jane. Really. And your blog name? It’s SO cool! Heck, why can’t I be named Jane? Love it. Love you. I’m subscribing right now.

    • … and, oh dear Heather, you HAVE to know how precious your comment is to me. Thanks so much. Really. (And you really do have to try your pen at poetry, you would be so good at it, I just know it…you might never go back! 🙂

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