they should dance/dance
we are traveling
where are we going
if we only knew
These words from the Poem Latin & Soul by Hernandez Cruz figuratively dance across the page. The poem reminds me of a dervish, the religious dance performed by Sufis, Muslim ascetics. I also think of The Peasant Dance by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.
The verse and painting produce an intriguing juxtaposition between stasis and action. Still words. A still image. But I feel movement. The feeling is Zen-like. Each word in the poem is a moment, and the frozen image in the painting is a moment.
When we dance, we choreograph our movements; we match a song’s rhythm, yet we lose ourselves. There’s another strange juxtaposition. Fixedness and movement happen simultaneously. We lose ourselves “in the moment.” We forget the self as we move, and the body takes over. You can’t dance well if you’re thinking, “How do I look?”
Much art exhibits this mixture, this juxtaposition of abandon and artifice—not all art does. Much of it is not planned or pre-mediated. At least some of what you create should be an “in the moment’ experience.” Even though the dancers occupy the world, taking up space as they move, they lose themselves in the dance.
Many writers I admire learned this a long time ago. They rock, waltz, disco, and tango so freely. I am a terrible dancer. I always think, “Who’s looking; who’s laughing at me?”
Once at a Zydeco in Baton Rouge, I danced with a woman who was at least a foot taller than me. I was too aware of my face being in front of her breasts. I moved like a robot. The guys in the band could hardly play because they were howling so hard.
I compose like this sometimes, overthinking.
We should write as though there are no instructions and only later say, “Oh, there was a crowd.”