Grace Schulman

The Night Dancers
October 6, 2012 Schulman Grace

The Night Dancers


Praise the shadows that slither up candlelit walls

that slide out of our bodies, twist and shimmy,

turning red hair, a leafprint scarf, to gray,


silent partners of talkers at this table,

perhaps demonic selves. Now bouncing high

now lifting into shallow flight, they never,


unlike their owners, take in food or drink,

but cling, asking only to be remembered

when the flame gutters, when the dawn kills shadow.


While the judge and minister converse

over Merlot in phrases that disguise

bare meanings: I am the one, the only,


their slate doubles laugh, vaudeville satirists

and mimickers, knowing the dance will cast

singleness into one shape and one flat darkness.


Bring on the storms, the power outtages,

and fetch the lanterns, that we may see ourselves

risen, as they are, dissolved in watery forms,

color of muck.

Grace Schulman‘s newest book of poems is The Marble Bed, ws published by Turtle Point Press in October, 2020. Her previous collections include Without a Claim, The Broken String, The Paintings of Our Lives, For That Day Only, Hemispheres, and Burn Down the Icons. She is the author of Strange Paradise: Portrait of a Marriage, and First Loves, a collection of essays. Schulman is recipient of the Frost Award for Lifetime Achievement in American Poetry and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Other honors include five Pushcart Prizes and the Aiken-Taylor Award. Distinguished Professor of English at Baruch College, C.U.N.Y., she is editor of The Poems of Marianne Moore. She is a former Poetry Editor of The Nation (1971-2006) and Director, The Poetry Center, 92nd Street Y.