Monday, June 22, 2009

"Searching for it in a Guadalajara Dance Hall"

You go in from the cobbled back street.
Into an empty, concrete one-room building
where prim youngish women sit in a line
of straight chairs. The women are wearing
tea dresses thrown away by rich Texan
women two generations ago. The men are
peasants, awkward in a line of chairs opposite.
Nothing is sexual. There are proprieties.
No rubbing against anyone. No touching
at all. When the music starts, the men
go stiffly over to the women. It isn't
clear whether they say anything. The dance is
a slow, solemn fox trot. When it stops,
they stand still while the men
find a coin. The women stow it and all
of them go back to the chairs to wait for
the music and another partner. This is
not for love. The men can get love
for two coins at a shack in the next field.
They know about that. And that they will
never be married, because it is impossible
to own even a little land. They are
groping for something else, but don't know what.

~Jack Gilbert

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