Elegy for Dirty Dancing
There are planets that could sustain life
but that doesn’t mean they do.
There are parts of this world
where humidity is the meaning of life.
It’s the water. The possibility of water.
Flesh. The possibility of flesh.
Seventeen was a dark and hungry age
when any irony I could muster
was directed outward – when I could still imagine
growing up to be tough but tender,
a strong-armed loverboy, dancer, brawler.
When I could pretend to love
a movie or pretend to hate it, whatever
got me to the carpet in someone’s basement,
the VCR rewinding, her parents asleep upstairs
and the clock ticking toward curfew.
It’s hard to figure out who you are
when all you want is definition
in your biceps and someone to notice.
Every month was August in the South those days,
the air tangible, malleable, every secret
exposed, all swelter and sweat and the quiet music
of a river learning to love its banks all over again,
a virgin learning to dance like a movie star –
the rushing past, the holding on.
Amorak Huey, a former newspaper editor and reporter, teaches writing at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. His book Ha Ha Ha Thump is forthcoming in 2015 from Sundress Publications, and his chapbook The Insomniac Circus is due in October 2014 from Hyacinth Girl Press. Poems appear in The Best American Poetry 2012, The Baltimore Review, Quarterly West, The Collagist, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter: @amorak