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Monday, May 18, 2020


by Michael Mark

I danced in my house, every room, Watusied
into the cul-de-sac, in my neighbors’ yards,
driving dogs mad, setting off alarms. I Twisted
and shimmied, broke it down home-style to
the blasts, screeches, and wails for my neighbors
in their afternoon pjs, who banged on their windows,
flipped the finger, pointed pistols, semis, until
their yelling and banging turned into yodeling
and bumping and they switched on their entertainment
systems and danced in their living rooms with me
on their lawns. We danced at a safe distance, masks
on. They must’ve thought, This is kinda marvelous.
I danced on the runways and on the one plane cleared
to fly me to my sick dad. I danced for the captain
and I danced in the hospital where my 94 year old pop
was able to—to the gasps of the ICU nurses, whom I
waltzed with—raise a finger and conduct the band
in my head and we held hands so he wasn’t alone,
scared, and he felt I was a good son.


Here’s what really happened: I abided by the edict,
stayed in, ate canned soup, rationed toilet paper,
washed my hands with soap while I sang songs
for two full minutes, sang to make sure I didn’t skimp,
sudsing conscientiously to rub those viral germs away,
adhering to the officials, and to keep from getting bored
I danced to the song I sang in the bathroom, even while
I dried. I danced in my house, and in my neighbors’
yards. I Boogalooed in the grocery with the elderly,
the most vulnerable, like my dad, in New York, alone,
94, who I can’t be with, and we danced in the oatmeal aisle,
cookie aisle, the Depends aisle, the pet food aisle.
They knew all the steps and we wore masks and gloves
and I took them by their tiny hands and we twirled
and twirled.

Michael Mark’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Copper Nickel, Michigan Quarterly Review, Salamander, Salt Hill Journal, The Southern Review, The New York Times, The Sun, Waxwing, The Poetry Foundation's American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily. He’s the author of two books of stories including Toba and At the Hands of a Thief (Atheneum). @michaelgrow