Boxer's Ringside (or, what used to be at 308 W. Main Street, or, How to Dance, a kind-of poem)
Try not to be afraid of your own body, it’s generous unfoldings. Don’t try to smooth out your sharper points or put forward your softer ones. If you can, close your eyes. If you know them, sing the words to the song.
It’s okay if your body brushes up against someone else’s. It’s okay if you taste their sweat. Don’t worry about the cheeseburger with onions you ate for lunch, remember that all that junk coiled up inside you, the organs and the intestines and the pipes and the pump of your heart, all of that exists just to get you here, on a dance floor with other humans who are being so, so human, all of that humanity spilling out in front of you, that boy-man in the white tshirt with the fancy footwork and bright sneakers, that girl-woman who closes her eyes and reaches for the ceiling with nails longer than than your pinky finger, that DJ with shoulders that move to the music, that woman in the mirror who is hiding behind her hair.
When someone tells you you are beautiful tell them hell-yes and if no one tells you you are beautiful, fuck them all but still keep dancing. You have a right to be here, not because of the five dollars you paid to get in or because you are a woman or a mother or even because you are tired and could use a break like this, some time away. You deserve this because you are human, which is the only reason that matters, which is also the same reason you are connected to all of them and when you dance long enough, in the right way, you know that there's a string connecting us all and when the music plays and everyone is in just the right mood, god or someone up there shakes that string and that is dancing.
I know all this because yesterday I met a woman who told me it was her ninety-third birthday and she said, honey, you will have more questions than answers before the end and the only one that matters is, do you want to dance?
Photo courtesy of Michael Penny