Friday Poetry: "The First Dance"

This week’s Friday Poetry was partially inspired by a beautiful book I'm currently reading called The Glass Castle—you should definitely check it out, by the way, but be careful of some mature themes.

As always, don't forget to leave a comment if you love the poem or hate it or anywhere in between; feedback is always welcome. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone—I'll catch up with you all on Monday! xx

The First Dance

the only thing you remember about him
is that he taught you to dance.

when you were young enough that his face
would eventually blur into a skin-coloured shape
with two bright blue eyes, he twirled you around
and whispered in your ear that you were his
favourite girl above everybody else
and he made you pinky-promise
never to tell anybody, even momma

and he put a record on his huge old-fashioned turntable
and you danced through the waltz, his hands guiding you
danced through an afternoon of sunkissed innocence
the kind of afternoon when second chances sat on a
horizon far into the distance and goodbye was just another
string of syllables in the big fat book with all the words in it

you stepped too hard on his toes but instead of crying
like you might have, he laughed:
loud and boisterous like you were the funniest joke he’d
ever heard, and you laughed with him because
you knew that he was laughing because he loved you

and this you knew, always:
he loved you.

you didn’t know how to fake a smile, then
because you were too busy twirling in his arms to the
1-2-3 of the waltz and his laughter like music
singing in your ears, and back then you didn’t know
who you were supposed to be, but you did know
that he knew everything, and that was enough for you

but fast forward 1-2-3 years when you’re 9 and
he and momma are fighting again with screams like
scratches on a vinyl record and the sunkissed room
seems too far away for words to tell

fast forward 1-2-3 years when you’re 12 and
he’s gone and momma’s eyes still get red when you
bring it up so you learn to forget about everything,
except you find yourself humming a tune that
you don’t know where you picked up and you dance
alone in your room to the lilting rhythm of a waltz

fast forward 1-2-3 years when you’re 15 and
the world seems to be rebelling against you and
you can’t find anybody to tell you they love you
so in the privacy of your bathroom you
scratch one word over and over into your own
skin with ink that looks too much like blood:

goodbye
goodbye
goodbye

fast forward 1-2-3 years when you’re 18 and
you’ve learned how to tie a mask and you
say yes to the first boy who asks because your
smile works but your mind doesn’t, and when he
takes you to prom you keep wondering why his
laugh doesn’t sound quite right

fast forward 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9 years and
you’re walking down the aisle with nobody by
your side to steady you so you almost trip and fall,
but you get there safely and say the words and
for the first time in too many years you feel almost
like you’ve caught up with the second chance you’ve
been chasing all this time

but when the music begins playing there it is again:
a waltz you’d almost forgotten, and you begin dancing
and it’s a sunkissed afternoon but you look over and
momma’s eyes are red and when you accidentally
step on his feet his laugh isn’t the one you were hoping for

so at the end of it you have to excuse yourself and
run to the bathroom to wash your face, and when you walk
back out you take a deep breath like it’s your last one on earth
close your eyes and exhale all the goodbyes you never said
allow yourself one single moment to retie your mask
look up into his face and fake a smile because
he can’t tell the difference—

and then you dance.