The Dancer

a poem by C.A. Shoultz


I saw a dancer in an empty street,

Alone in some dark hour of the night.

The streetlamps glared their cold cruel white light down,

And made bright islands in the general gloom.

I was escaping from a noisy bar

Where drinks and music had my time swept up,

And I was focused on my Twitter feed

When I glanced upward briefly—there she was.

She wore a leotard of blackened silk;

Her hair was done up in a tidy bun.

She did not say a word, but merely moved,

Her body twisting, flowing in its time.

Across the lakes and ponds of light she danced;

The shadows and the glow upon her fell

In fitful swells and motions as she moved

In regular and tidy leaps and bounds

And pirouettes and arabesques of grace.


I had been dancing once or twice before;

I’d gone out a few times to halls and clubs.

But this was dancing of a different sort.

She moved with order and with purpose strict,

Was regular in all her leaps and spins.

No music played, but as she danced I thought

I could perceive the tune to which she bent.

Yet suddenly she stopped, and turned my way,

And stretched her hand out to me in the dark.

Fear gripped me; who was I to interfere?

Her dancing was immaculate, pristine.

While I? I did not know the steps or spins.

My clumsiness, my ignorance would mar

Her beauty and perfection—would I dare?

Yet still she stood there, poised, with outstretch’d hand,

And now her fingers bent in beckoning.

So, setting down my phone, I caref’lly stepped

Until I joined her in her isle of light.

Our way was slow and fitful at the start.

She was a patient teacher, while I tripped

And stumbled o’er my feet a time or three.

I felt frustration build, and thought to quit,

But each time she would gently place my leg

Or move my arm into its correct place.

She was a patient teacher, and at length

My confidence grew in my body’s path.

I slowly found I could move on my own.

The time went on, the night waxed deeper yet,

But still we danced, and with each minute past

I learned from her, and took her teaching well.

Our motions now became much more complex,

And much more formal, ordered and exact.

Again I stumbled once or twice, and she

Again was patient, teaching without words.

So did I learn, and as I learned she was

Less teacher than a partner to me now.

And as the stars burned brightly overhead,

We danced intensely;

She and I a furious motion made,

We took turns leading;

As the two of us persisted, I thought I

Could hear the music to which we both moved:

A chorus divine

That rose in the night,

As though all the planets were chiming.

At once the night, however, was undone.

dallas sunrise

I spun away from her, and looked about,

And with surprise beheld the rising sun.

She smiled at me wordless, breathing hard,

Then bent her torso low in a deep bow.

I bowed as well, the wind blew gently by;

It carried with it April’s sweet soft scents.

She glanced off towards the sun, which burned blood red,

And nodded, and then turned, and walked away.

Wait!” I called; she turned, and smiled gently.

What’s your name?” I asked.

Eliza,” she responded, turned again,

And left me standing.

I watched her go, then suddenly could hear

More music, different than what had been played.

But it rose sweetly,

So I stood on toes

Dancing anew as light streamed downward.


C.A. Shoultz is a poet and writer currently living in Dallas, Texas.  He graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor of Arts in Great Texts of the Western Tradition, and is currently attending the University of Dallas, where he is obtaining a Master of Arts in English Literature.

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