The Dance

by Katherine Gallagher

All around, islands of girls waiting
to be asked – cherry pinks, fern-greens, lilacs,
offsetting lines of dark-suits,
half-shy boys: one by one, couples swirling
away, following each other into the sea
of that crowded floor – everything suspended
in the thinning air, the school dancing on its toes,
Exhibition Swing pumped out by an imitation
Victor Sylvester Band, unsmiling, but practised
as a row of puppets,
a whirl of sedate moves, under spotlights,
and me, ready to step
out of that loop.