Dancing in Baghdad
We follow shivering cello strings and arrive
at the new embassy, sandbagged and sounding the clicks
of crystal: a gala in the old vein.
The pretty women of politicos fill their stitches,
oil tycoons trade hot and eager handshakes.
There is fine food to eat.
You look beautiful tonight with the sweat
swept under your dress, the ferocious
desert taken out of your hair. We waltz
because that is the most tragic dance,
moving like rooks to the corner of the room.
Left togther, right together,
past the cool chess lords.
Silk handkerchiefs are tossed in the toasting hour,
come down like parachutes. The night is fully here.
I wanted it to be grand but instead it is cheap,
the champagne flat and impoverished in the heat.
Our quartet is risking its way home, replaced
by a DJ spinning frantic discord
toward the grinding interns and yes men.
We move past.
You cough now at the smell of bodies.
Some grit and death has been tracked in
and scratches quietly at the floor. A blast
outside shakes the chandelier loose
and every head glitters in a fine rain of asbestos.
We are all snow-covered with the accidental
dust of empire. But we can still waltz.
Even without music. Keep time.
We move in L's, a body box, briefly
claim a square of ground and lose it.
Left together, left together, dance
by blazing guns in dark kitchens, left together
by death on the roadside, left,
by soldier boys, left together
by the city limits and the last pulse of desert sun,
together until we are home. Far away. In armchairs,
dreaming the sulfur dark and rocket whistles,
the street filled with human firecrackers,
the charred markets, the film crews.
Our legs still twitch sometimes and we try to
memorize: right togther, right together, right.