The crazy ladies are singing again,
clapping their hands and gums to the music,
dancing their wheelchairs to and fro
with a frail and bony toe.
In the front row, some old men,
flushed with the heat of the season,
are thumping their tuneless canes and stumps,
driving old age and infirmity
out of the room like an unwanted guest.
Meanwhile, the belly dancer,
all sweat and sequins, muscles and skin,
ripples and pumps,
her skimpy metallic costume slipping
beneath her secret hair,
until even my father, slumped in his chair,
lifts his voice and quickens:
Goddamn! he sings. Look there!
Until we're all dancing and singing,
hips, breasts, and heads ringing
the immodest, unlikely air,
until the performance is over.
The women stiffen into their chairs;
the men lean back on their silence;
and my father folds up as in prayer,
with just enough breath left to whisper.
And sing. And dance. And swear.