In the early 80s, American girls in Mexico City,
we loved to dance, jiggling new breasts and tight buttocks
to Chic, Earth Wind & Fire, Shakakan,
pumping our fists in the air and moaning ahhhhh
as we leapt off Joanne's double bed
to stick a landing--
arms straight, fingers wide and stretched--
jazz hands, she called them--
on the tan carpet
cluttered with our polyester shirts, whirled
and thrown off in sweaty dance passion,
and our tight Calvin Kleins, kicked off leg by leg,
and her new Candies, hard wooden quotation marks
around the scrambled comment cast
by my chunky leather "chastity" belt.
Joanne's mother, frowning under big glasses,
mousey blonde hair frosted like a cake
in waves over her shiny forehead,
would've told us to pipe down
if she'd heard us
shouting we are family with Sister Sledge,
but her mother was floating alone in the pool,
under the moon,
as her father, who worked for PPG, flew
on a mysterious errand,
across the dry divide between Mexico and the States.
Now Joanne's got three kids of her own,
a balding builder husband,
and a million dollar house in Southern California.
At a Palm Springs spa a few years ago,
none of us danced.
Joanne, reserved under a cropped cap
of highlighted hair, roused into an echo
of that old dance passion
only to declare "gay" a "lifestyle,"
curling her lips,
as if "lifestyle" were something that needed to be
stamped out at once,
like a carpet fire
caused by a hopeless drunk's cigarette.
While she talked, I stared at her fingers,
still graceful, long and slim.
They flared as she spoke--
jazz hands, wide and strong,
sticking the words
like raw notes
under my skin.