Her son drinks Qing Xin Oolong and dances on the moon;
He tells her that the world is his — it jiggles in his pocket
when he whirls, his blonde hair curling in the damp air
as people ask to touch him: brings good luck, they say,
like rubbing Buddha’s head. They call him beautiful man
as he strolls through the Liuhe night market. It is
the first word he learns in Mandarin: mĕinánzi.
This he writes to his mother, in whose dreams he
waltzes amid the waves of an unhurried sea.
In tango you dance in perfect synchronicity with your partner
as the music carries you forward and back, into dips and slides,
your eyes heavy-lidded Latino eyes, or so you imagine:
you imagine a milonga in Argentina where maybe you’d
dance with the son of a Nazi officer, maybe a Mengele
who wouldn’t realize the Aryan-pale woman he held
is a Jew who as a child would pretend with her friends
that they were partisans in the Warsaw Ghetto, who once
carved her parents’ numbers on her arm, whose parents,
even in their safe New York house, would hide behind
the dining room drapes each time the doorbell rang
unless someone was expected. In tango, with his hand light
against your waist, almost a caress, or so you imagine,
you would arch your back against his arm, or he would
arch it for you, the music flowing over a 4/4 beat that
could be millions of hearts, each beating one last time.
Susan Levi Wallach (http://lingolit.wordpress.com) was a Best Fiction featured writer for her short story “Pool.” Her novel Flasher was a finalist in the 2012 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition. Her writing also has appeared in The Monarch Review, Fiction & Verse, and a number of technology magazines. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.