Two Dancers: Flamenco
Before, she sat straight-backed,
her hands clasped
like birds before migration.
Now, with her eyes
and hammering palms
she is forging a scimitar.
A surge within the spine; hot rain;
a slow roll of fire;
lips muttering an invocation
on the edge of the precipice.
And she is not herself
in the final coming-to-rest:
standing with one arm outstretched
and a face pale as bone,
she is Judith, smiling the cruel
inscrutable smile of victory,
throwing us a challenge.
One we are about to accept.
Out of stillness, a gesture.
Hand, strong wrist;
fingers spinning air.
Then: passes, feints, preliminaries
—like the wing-struts of a learning bird—
begin to build.
Calmly, the cantaor drops one word,
Now, into the kerosene silence,
and suddenly the world is thick with eyes:
a hundred hissing jets of black flame.
It is the dead, keeping vigil.
Their dancer is about to make the journey.
At the front of the stage, he straightens
like a cobra—or a victim
transfixed by the event horizon,
looking for a way to begin.
A way to cross the divide.
Behind him goes the jaleo:
now soft, now insistent; understanding,
“si, eso; si. Eso si. Vamos ya.
The spiral rises another level.
And he rises to it, rapt,
blind before the door
where there was no door.
And in the air there is a veil of sweat
like the sweat on the veil of Veronica.****
From Waiting for Saint Brendan and Other Poems
by David McLoghlin
Published by Salmon in 2012
Copyright © David McLoghlin, 2012
MORE ABOUT DAVID McLOGHLIN
Born in Dublin in 1972, David McLoghlin is the author of Waiting for Saint Brendan and Other Poems (Salmon Poetry, 2012), a section of which was awarded second prize in The Patrick Kavanagh Awards, and Sign Tongue, translations from the work of Chilean poet Enrique Winter, which won the 2014 Goodmorning Menagerie Chapbook-in-Translation prize. David received first-class honours from University College, Dublin for his research MA in modern Spanish literature. He also holds an MFA in Poetry from New York University, where he was a Teaching Fellow. David received a major Bursary from The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon in 2006, and was the Howard Nemerov Scholar at the 2011 Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Between 2003 and 2005 he received three grants to study Galician in Santiago de Compostela. Most recently, he was a prize-winning finalist for the 2015 Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, judged by Billy Collins. His work has been broadcast on WNYC’s Radiolab, and published in journals such as Poetry Ireland Review, Barrow Street, The Stinging Fly, Cimarron Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review and Poetry International. David lives with his wife in Brooklyn, NY.
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