#FlattenTheCurve: Dancing in Ohio by Nicole Michaels

I have come to vote
but the polls are closing.

People crowd
the doors,

fan out,

six feet and short bursts
of contact

remembered like something rehearsed,
a quadrille we join wearing

hoop skirts,
or ascot ties,

our steps
measured and well-controlled,

our ways of moving
more deliberate and refined.

We undo arches we would have made with our fingers.

Our feet tap stone floors.
Musicians rest their bows,

and a harpsichord
shuts on itself.

I feel a memory of bone
at my waist,

and believe I once sang
in a parlor,

a smoke from a gas lit porch,

gave away
a garter

as a keepsake of my infatuation
in the midst of a plague.

A war.

We mirror each other to our rides,
taking lines, arms at our sides,

a kaleidoscope of close-lipped smiles,
tipped chins and gentle nods.

A squat man arrives at his electric car,
puts his top hat in the trunk.

I had a black horse once that stepped high,
pulled a carriage.

Didn’t like to be stalled.

A woman passes,
blooming cherries on her fan,

her eyes
downcast in my direction.

This is the new modesty, she seems to say.
There’s romance in self-protection.



Nicole Michaels lives in North Carolina where she attends graduate school in the Department of English at East Carolina University in Greenville. A California native, Nicole was raised at the base of Mount Tamalpais in beautiful Mill Valley. Educated at Stanford University, Nicole spent several years raising in goats in Wyoming where the pedagogy of the land was the best teacher. She is currently apprenticing in the low country, with spring bloom and the occasional thunderstorm and irascible chickens.

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