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Poetry

from A Short History of Dance

By Marjana Savka
Translated from Ukrainian by Askold Melnyczuk
Listen, child, to a wise old wolf: / in dance everything has its own meaning.

Listen, child, to a wise old wolf:
in dance everything has its own meaning.
Here we've stopped—
we haven't touched,
yet our breath dances in a common rhythm,
always stronger and faster.
We began with the foxtrot—but can you feel the pulsing of tango?
Listen for a moment to the echoing stillness,
and now hold out your palm,
let's find the pressure points,
and from here on
our history begins,
from here
rush rivers of mania,
a yellow heat
flares in the red eyes of longing,
igniting its own wild tarantella in the veins.
If you can, travel to the end on wire bridges
above the boiling lava.
Everything I promise you—
to dance with you,
to be with you in the dance,
on distant alpine peaks,
in blinding green fields,
black chasms,
in the folios of Egyptian libraries,
on red silk scrolls in Chinese shops,
everywhere and anywhere,
amid the beads, amid the sands,
on cinnamon waves,
in the pleated water lilies,
on whispering sheets,
tangling time and space.
. . . later, though, don't pretend
you didn't want exactly this . . .

English

Listen, child, to a wise old wolf:
in dance everything has its own meaning.
Here we've stopped—
we haven't touched,
yet our breath dances in a common rhythm,
always stronger and faster.
We began with the foxtrot—but can you feel the pulsing of tango?
Listen for a moment to the echoing stillness,
and now hold out your palm,
let's find the pressure points,
and from here on
our history begins,
from here
rush rivers of mania,
a yellow heat
flares in the red eyes of longing,
igniting its own wild tarantella in the veins.
If you can, travel to the end on wire bridges
above the boiling lava.
Everything I promise you—
to dance with you,
to be with you in the dance,
on distant alpine peaks,
in blinding green fields,
black chasms,
in the folios of Egyptian libraries,
on red silk scrolls in Chinese shops,
everywhere and anywhere,
amid the beads, amid the sands,
on cinnamon waves,
in the pleated water lilies,
on whispering sheets,
tangling time and space.
. . . later, though, don't pretend
you didn't want exactly this . . .

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