Seeing a Young Woman
(dancing to Reggae on Holiday Isle)

Michael Largo

A green swath of cloth tied at her breasts
for a top; it is a wonder to watch her dance:
the coral blocks of seawall and the stepped
patio-- wooden plank lounge chairs
balanced on large white wooden wheels, pushed aside
wet beach towels draped, plastic cocktails glasses,
napkins fluttering. Seagulls looking
sideways, alternating pier piling perches,
their flying shadows on her face.
How can you fall in love with someone you don't know
nor will? Just a brief glance; a leaf falling,
a twig snapping under bare feet enough to make
a pause, a momentary break, a hesitation
in the constant churning the movement forward
the motion away. (My wife goes ahead towing the children
and I watch this other one dance.) It is not knowing anything
about this woman I see dancing that makes this work;
we have no history,
no lines of tears between us, no echoes of low sobbing voices
gazing through broken screen doors hazed by betrayal.
No promises unkept,
no promises to make. It is in this
her moment of perfection, this moving portrait
she will never know was taken like a painter
making an open ended frame of joining thumbs;
an observation, a celebration for that silica thread
of life when she was untouched, reigning over death
a laugh on her smile
a toss of the hair
a defiance of innocent energy to that slow
crackling and crumbling of bones; a broken petal
of a flower held up, caught, the red flower in her hair
frozen in a phantom


The 2River View, 2_4 (Summer 1998)