my heart is secret
‘do you dance, pretty girl?’
‘ I’m a dancer,’ she said. & that was enough.
under tall lamp lights, & beyond that, a summer moon & stars that sparked,
we glided in freestyle steps on barricaded city streets. there were Beatles &
Rolling Stones; black singers & Mexican & females in short dresses; songs
about love & heartbreak & loneliness in a distant place that was foreign to
us. melodies that rocked, & rolled on waves in the air from piped-in music.
youth gets older & the world becomes violent. jeans & sport jackets are
exchanged for uniforms, & I’m taken to a place where battles are made.
sometimes the nights are quiet. our duties are done, our weapons are clean,
& we sit in the gloom on bunks & foot lockers. one man rolls a joint, prime
weed, & it is passed around. when my turn comes, I suck in the bitter smoke
& hold it. hold it. hold it. then release, & the smoke carries away fragments
of the fear that erodes inside me. the war is close, & it doesn’t matter, & the
girl, the girl is far away, & neither does it matter.
on other nights, on streets where there is no dancing, the only march I make
is from one bar to the next, & the girls I meet have not been girls for a
long time. we talk a little & finish a cocktail, & I know I will fuck her when
we’ve settled on a price.
my life proceeds. I drink, I drive cars too fast. I make a little money & I drink
again. the music has moved indoors to a great dancefloor. the songs are
hard as metal, the dancing is a frenzy of blasphemous emotions. I am made
of sex & nothing more.
the years drop away like broken soldiers, & when a man can no longer dance,
he writes. these nights have fashioned me to be alone, & I wonder: where was
my heart? if there was love, the words were spoken briefly after sex, before
the flames burned out entirely. there were a few women who thought they
knew something, but there was nothing to know.
my heart is a secret, even to myself…
(Art: Heather Carr)
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