by Judith Lal

“You’re young, so full of self, and that’s why
you dance like you’re speed-dating;
you’re a moving monologue, uninterruptable;
but on the floor you must move
like a marriage, maybe for three minutes,
but it’s still a marriage until you’re parted
by the last breath of the bandoneon.
I was twelve when I dared stammer to a Master
I’d like to learn, but how to follow
was all he’d show me: night after night
before he’d trust me to lead, for two years
I played the tanguera until I become a tanguero;
and when I changed sex, or rather changed back,
I had a hermaphrodite soul, and dancing
was a timeless conversation full of surprises…
If that’s too sublime for your visceral spirit,
consider the pantomime horse:
being the rear-end
for a couple of Christmases,
when you get to don the headpiece
you’ll know the trials and needs
of your seamless partner; the pair of you
will be a four-legged beast – O come here!”
With that the Master pulled his grandson close
and steered him reddening
into their awkward adventure.