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[The Dance]
by Jenny Laper

[Dancing, by Alfred Gockel]
by Alfred Gockel

the night you up and danced,
the first time in fifty-two years,
everyone laughed and grabbed cameras
to capture your sudden folly,
except Daddy,
cringing under the canopy,
eyes on the ground,
composing an apology to his parishioners
while the beat of "Billie Jean" found you
strutting on the dark August lawn
torched with citronella,
shimmying your stout seventy-five year old hips
to a semi-squat
then up, elbows pumping,
plump fingers jabbing at stars,
Aunt Kathryn, Uncle Burton,
Buster, your brother, open-jawed,
your flawless "funky chicken"
hushing the gaping guests,
the groom's family with their glances,
that pink floral dress bought for the formal church photo
flapping at your happy limbs,
the whole fifty-two, fish-bowl years
of funerals, weddings, the Ladies Aid,
Sunday services, decorum, display,
seven children clean and well behaved,
that spent charade fading
where a circle of grandfather oaks
bowed to your sure grace on the trampled grass.

Bio: Jenny Laper, currently lives and writes in the woods near Springfield, Missouri--a recent move after 23 years in Los Angeles. Her belief in poetry's transformative power and her interest in videography led to the recent production of a documentary video, "The Truth About Ourselves: How Poetry Heals" in collaboration with the National Association of Poetry Therapists. She has made her living in the Healthcare and Publishing professions.

Contact Jenny at

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