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Graveyard Dance

by Beth Pauli
I perform the graveyard dance.
Thats what I do.
I don't get paid for each performance;
instead I pay for trying again.
I will always have dirt lodged
under my fingernails;
always a naked body coated with mud.
I perform the graveyard dance.
That's what I do.
Even though I go to work every morning,
even though I go out at nights
all that I am doing
is clawing and scratching and digging
through layers of brick heavy compost.
Usually I can see the light for a momenrt.
If I am lucky I can breathe the fresh, crisp, cold air.
Once I made it far enough
to look around and see the fragile flowers
placed with love on the surrounding headstones.
I have never pulled out of my grave--
nor will I ever.
No such thing as a walk with the living
in the real world above.
As a child I thought I was living on top of the earth,
but it was the underworld impersonating freedom.
I did not know I had to work
so hard to scratch the barrier
between fresh air and soiled life.
I perform the graveyard dance.
That's what I do:
repeated digging motions;
repeated clawing movments;
each phase with a new twist
offering excitement,
yet always made up of fundamental elements;
always returning to the same pattern;
I cross my arms;
I turn my legs;
I twist my head.
I perform a choreographed, predestined life.
That's what I do.

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Copyright © 1997 by Beth Pauli. All rights reserved.