Gym Dance with the Doors Wide Open

By J. Allyn Rosser b. 1957
When the fog slunk in with that salivary,   
close, coyote panting, its hue a very   
huelessness, like breath huffed on a glass,   
like the void stretched and still stretching past   
where we’d thought it could, we felt less wary.   
We felt our shoulders loosen, surrendering   
to phantom hands and softly vanished feet.   
The sensation was a first and last: sweet   
to feel the vigilance at last suspending,   
the chronic stress of constantly pretending   
to know—have known!—what all the others knew.   
Loopy, sly, we leered at one another   
(what we just assumed was one another)   
and did the things we weren’t supposed to do,   
grinning as if seated in the back pew   
of a church that worshipped fuss and bother,   
a dour church where facial expression   
of any kind had been prohibited,   
and where the chinking, hefty plate we shifted   
hand to hand held such a vast collection   
of their coin, we pocketed a fraction   
for when the fog would lift, if it lifted.   
But stealing from them puts you in their power.   
Since then we have been paying for that hour.

Source: Poetry (May 2006).


This poem originally appeared in the May 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

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May 2006
 J. Allyn Rosser


J. Allyn Rosser was born in Pennsylvania and attended Middlebury College in Vermont as well as the University of Pennsylvania where she earned a doctorate. Her works include Bright Moves (1990), which won the Morse Poetry Prize, and Misery Prefigured (2001), winner of the Crab Orchard Award. In 2007 she was awarded The New Criterion Poetry Prize for a new book of poems entitled Foiled Again, published in the Fall of 2007. . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Coming of Age, Activities, School & Learning

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