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 is Without a Claim, which Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will publish in the fall of 2013. Her earlier books include Paintings of Our Lives, For That Day Only, Hemispheres, and Burn Down the Icons. She is the recipient of the Delmore Schwartz Award for Poetry and of a Poetry Fellowship from the New York Foundation of the Arts. Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry and The Best of the Best American Poetry and in Pushcart Prizes 21 and 23. She is author of Marianne Moore: The Poetry of Engagement; editor of Ezra Pound, translator from the Hebrew of T. Carmi’s At the Stone of Losses; and co-translator from the Spanish of Pablo Antonio Cuadra’s Songs of Cifar. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New Republic, Paris Review, Antaeus, Grand Street, the Yale Review, the Hudson Review, the Kenyon Review and elsewhere. She was the Poetry Editor of the Nation, and former director of the Poetry Center, 92nd Street Y.