There’s a Limbo Moon Above

The best-known German goldsmith of the sixteenth century, Wenzel Jamnitzer, is also remembered for his study of the five platonic solids, Perspectives of Regular Bodies, in which he proposed that out of the same five bodies one can go on endlessly making all other bodies.

The five solids originate with Pythagoras, but are named after Plato, who paired four of the five solids with each of the four elements and the fifth with heaven to make up the difference: tetrahedron (fire), octahedron (air), cube (earth), icosahedron (water), and dodecahedron (heaven).

The idea is that the universe is made up of a handful of shapes and out of these shapes other shapes are made.

In a letter to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Nobel Prize Committee, Chubby Checker claimed to have invented the dance that begat all other modern dances.

Speaking of himself in third person he wrote, “Chubby Checker changed everything. He gave movement to a music that never had this movement before. The styles changed. The nightclub scene is forever changed. Checker gave birth to aerobics.”

The song originally called “What a monotonous melody,” written in five minutes on a dare, begat “Limbo Rock” begat “Let’s Limbo Some More” begat “Mary Ann Limbo” begat “Limbo Rock/Do the Limbo Rock,” as “The Twist” begat “Let’s Twist Again” begat “Slow Twistin’” begat “Twist It Up” begat “The Twist (Yo, Twist!).”

Checker calls his dance “dancing apart to the beat,” not dancing separate from the beat, but two people dancing separate from one another.

“Limbo Rock” ends in a whistle.

Limbo, the dance, comes from Trinidad, where it was danced at wakes, but in reverse: the bar began at the lowest height and was raised to symbolize a rising from death into life.

Dante’s limbo is the best circle of Hell, all those unbaptized babies and old philosophers to snuggle up with at night.

“Mary Ann Limbo” starts with a whistle.

All day, all night, Mary Ann
Down by the sea side siftin’ sand
Even little children love Mary Ann
Down by the seaside siftin’ sand

Take a shape.

Repeat it — translate it, reflect it over a line, rotate it around a point — and you’ve got symmetry.

Go, go, go, go: that’s it!

That’s gold.
More Poems by Beth Bachmann