This is no child that dances. This is flame.
Here fire at last has found its natural frame.
What else is that which burns and flies
From those enkindled eyes...
What is that inner blaze
About that lighted face?...
This thing is fire set free—
Fire possesses her, or rather she
Controls its mastery.
With every gesture, every rhythmic stride,
Beat after beat,
It follows, purring at her side,
Or licks the shadows of her flashing feet.
Around her everywhere
It coils its thread of yellow hair.
Through every vein its bright blood creeps,
And its red hands
Caress her as she stands
Or lift her boldly when she leaps.
Then, as the surge
Of radiance grows stronger
These two are two no longer
And they merge
Into a disembodied ecstasy;
To express some half-forgotten hunger,
Some half-forbidden urge.
Has been at work until it blent
One child and that fierce element?
Give it no name.
It is enough that flesh has danced with flame.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 21, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.