The Danse


The full moon rose, as did a chill fog,
through whose beams and mists there came
a dark wolf trotting, or perhaps a large black dog,
from a village like countless others the same.

Unhurried, the shadowy hound stole away
with his face set in a knowing, patient grin,
looking for the next town, the next day,
until he should return to that village again.

She came twirling, then, on long willowy limbs,
pirouetting as if to entreat everyone to dance
upon the moonlit moor, as if the sweetest of whims
was to come twirling and whirling, perchance.

She had a high pale forehead and white hair
as light and milky as the full moon,
and there was careless abandon in Her black stare
as if all frets and regrets would pass soon.

The garments She wore were thin of thread
like gossamers woven from final sighs
or final words given upon a deathbed,
as the world-weary close their heavy eyes.

We came to her with the withered flowers
given to us by loved ones and friendly neighbors
who cut them to mirror our short lives, our mortal hours,
after we fell to pustules, coughs, wrinkles, or sabers.

We heard her music— heard nothing— and so obeyed
for it was the music of still air, unmoving earth, frozen water;
a rhythm with inert hearts, composed by flesh unmade
as decay played upon every mother, father, son, and daughter.

A circle around Her we formed, hand in hand in hand,
as the winds fell to silence, the whole moonlit expanse,
all hushed and halted in that nocturnal land
until there was no movement but that of the Danse.


Prince and pauper linked together, Christian with Jew,
stranger likewise with stranger, maiden also with crone,
sinner with saint, foe with foe, and I danced with you,
all in flowing harmony with Her, and Her alone.

We danced in eternal circles, waltzing away the night
and the next day, and every night and day thereafter,
the hours bygone, unseen, cast off as one very well might
the sorrows and ills of Life with loud, careless laughter.

Yet, we were silent as we danced, and silent and free
as the darkness beyond the mute moon, and the Nevermore;
wanting not, and unwanted, except by our Lady
whose rapt beauty was absolute in its clutch and store.

Hear it now? The song of unspoken words?
Of falling tears and grief-strangled prayers,
of restless worms and flies and buzzards
circling round in their own dance upon the airs?

And yet, for us, it is the most keenly attuned song
as we circle timelessness with our unfeeling feet,
bound round together without pain or grief or wrong
until eternity’s beginning and end should meet.

What serenity in Her gaze! So open, honest, and true
as we circle with Her forever in our shrouded Danse,
for there is no peace as pure or gentle, for me or for you,
as that of the sublime Totentanz!


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