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Gym Dance with the Doors Wide Open

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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)

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

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Gym Dance with the Doors Wide Open

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