The Perfect Zen Dance of the Boulder

William Doreski

A glacial boulder larger
than my house. Before it,
a woman dances to music

in her head. Swinging her arms,
indifferent to my witness,
she dances the perfect Zen dance

of the boulder, in which
the dancer becomes the boulder,
the boulder becomes the dancer,

and thousands of tons of deadweight
exude a spirit so vital
I can almost believe I see it

smoking from upholsteries of moss.
I shouldn’t stand here watching,
but the mass of her indifference

equals that of the boulder
so I’m caught in the neutral zone
that arrests all movement but hers.

As she dances past me her face
looks blank enough to write on.
Her limbs, however rubbery,

are strong enough to brace a planet.
The music sifts from her like flour
and dusts the ground where I stand.

At last I break free of myself
and retreat up the trail. Half a mile
later I still hear absent music,

still feel the warm air surfing
about her whirling arms, still
believe the spirit of the boulder

has responded to her artistry
by absorbing and erasing her
and leaving her body to twirl.

WILLIAM DORESKI lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and teaches at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.

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