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featured poet, Katherine Gallagher

Katherine Gallagher

Dancing on the Farm

I wanted to dance with my father,
dance fast over dirt tracks,
dance full-flight across creeks;
breeze past the watching crows,
surprise every sheep and cow:
jazz-waltz, foxtrot, jive –
to find some joie-de-vivre
that seemed to pass him by.
At my first bush dance,
he pulled me to my feet, saved me
from being a wallflower:
his way to say caring.
He was master of the slow waltz:
I’d seen his cool toe-balancing,
the grace of it, guiding my mother
into circles of Lehar and Strauss.
But the foxtrot…
Too fast, he shrugged, I’m past it.
I didn’t believe him, standing there on the edge
of my dream with his face slightly pained –
as if giving bad news
and the gentle side of him spoke:
a look that said he was vulnerable,
my Dad, opened up,
the weight of days holding his feet
to the boards.

Katherine Gallagher

first published in collection Circus Apprentice, 2006,
Arc Publications (later in Carnival Edge: New & Selected Poems