Slow Dance
Anne Mckay
Doris Heitmeyer

small prints nightmade in snow leave me listening

silence trainwhistle silence

winter cortège lilies white on white for this journey

beats on a fox-skin drum heard in the village

almost hidden the path to the longhouse the gathering place

ancient timbers sinking into tall grass

full grown from an impossible crevice ailanthus in bud

hands shaping the song into the stone

slow dance the oldest woman does it best *

may moons calling recalling

midsummer eve a robin chuckles softly in its sleep

after twentyseven suns she dreamed rain

spilling white drops the ruby in the burdock's cup

paper cut a taste of salt

labor day the balloon vendor sweats uphill

that face again in the metro pale petal

to follow a smoky moon all night down neon streets

on and on the siren's hot red note

those black birds robbing the courthouse cherry tree

migrant workers line up at the pump

first frost breaking camp now painted caravans pointing south

by firelight a new patch to his motley

still on a nightwind a northwind flutes from a far country

solstice let's weave linden wreaths for our hair

only three left to welcome the last long distance runner

school bus stops for a turtle crossing

tall shadows shadowing small shadows eve of all hallows

prize pumpkin not a perfect sphere

but only once that once on a blue moon

a luna moth fans dry its wings

christmas frost lies on the logging road undisturbed

violent night unholy night and yet . . .

have the guns truly been rolled away mist hides the hills

something wicked this way comes **

these cherry blossoms issa still roofing over hell?

. . . and the band played on

*another version read at Haiku Spotlight reading, Columbia University, New York, April 6, 1994.

** William Shakespeare, Macbeth

british columbia - New York

january 1992 - may 1994