Blue Tango

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.