Carol Novack
Dance, Baby, Dance!


1. Prom Queen

Baby pink clouds chased the little sailboat till it slipped off the edge of the sea. From afar, I heard the boys zithering in the wind. When I turned to bite your ear lobe, the alarming scent of prom orchids assaulted me. You offered them, but I had no gown and I was much too old for that sort of thing. So I wept. To comfort me, you stroked my tender bellybutton, sore from a storm of births. We returned to the shore, passing the abandoned tennis court where you'd kidnapped my virginity and throttled me twenty-love. The sailboat was landing with its cargo of boys. Now men, they were hung like dung beetles coughing in the breeze. The biggest and fattest one approached. “Dance, baby, dance,” he screamed, wrapping his blubbery legs about my nether regions. Brushing him off, I told him, “I don't care for marshmallows,” then turned to find you'd disappeared off the edge of memory.


2. Football Hero

He persists in returning to the field. Ever since the story of his third marriage ended, he's been looking for the Prom Queen. When he approaches the players, the coaches call him predator, old fag. The mothers will throw their lawyers at him, thinking unspeakable things. He only wants to dance and play in the Queen's white cotton panties. She demanded he eat no more than one pomegranate seed a day till his helmet became a tourniquet and his shoulder pads gave him backaches. All those years, the work didn't work; in the end he couldn't catch the tires rolling along assembly lines, tires smelling of road-kill, his third wife's suffocating perfume. On his custody day, he leads his daughter to the arena of the football heroes. When she rolls her eyes, oh daddy, he takes her to the shore, watches ocean liners evaporate in fog while she hugs her cell phone to her ear, speaks awesome whatever to her tennis star. There is nothing between the lapsed football hero and the sea, nothing to keep him from searching for his Queen under her waves.


3. Ebbing

There are no boats riding the fog in a dead wind. Turning toward you, I notice thin strands of fresh blond hair in your teeth. Still asleep, with lids fluttering, you are once again dreaming of the Prom Queen. You with your whale belly float while I fill your breakfast bowl with fruits from the garden and hide nuts and bitter seeds inside of them, hoping your teeth will fall out. Then you will abandon the tennis courts and forget her. The Queen is now wizened and waned with dusty silver mouse hair and breasts like racquets. Though there are times I don't want to catch you, there is no one else and you know I'm afraid of water.