Say it's the year of their courtship, your mother and father, in the ballroom of the Shoreham Hotel, summer 1952. In this plush setting, the orchestra swells time and again to a tune always their favorite. Any Friday night you could find them on the dance floor. He in tux and cummerbund. She in a black strapless, hem brushing the waxed wood as though it were a lilypad. Surrounded on all sides by Jesuits and their débutante dates in crushed velvet, pearls around their necks like a load of light. How you love to imagine that somehow everyone in that room although a little tipsy will get home safely and fumble in love for their beds. That the smoke from cigarettes ringing the room in red like hot coals is still rising. Say somewhere birds lift off the lake and it never gets light.
From Lush by Frazier Russell. Reprinted by permission of Four Way Books. Copyright © 2001 by Frazier Russell. All rights reserved.