I was never asked by a wax-worker to attend the factory dance.
The Masonic hall, I’m told, in October
resembles a golden hive. Merry citizens
in their glittering best one-step, two-step, chassé left,
tell a years-long story in the sway of their chicken dance.
Like the leaf-cutter or the western honey, these folksy drones
get buzzed beneath the strobes, Big Al’s borrowed fog machine,
the oomps and clangs of a polka.
They remind everyone at the end of the night
the queen doesn’t need you to mate for life.
It’s more of a numbers game, more of a
dance with the one what brought you
but leave with the one you like best.
Sometimes ritual has meaning, and the meaning’s not romance.
When you die you go to a place in Wisconsin.
If not a Sadie Hawkins, then at least a roadside cheese castle,
an indoor waterpark, or an hourly motel:
something like the Single Tree Inn
or Big Al’s Honey Pot. When you die
you go to the shore of the state’s greatest lake,
wide mouth full of sky, biding time before you wake.
A couple skis by holding a rope, each other,
a profile picture pose. They remember dancing,
calling one another by wildflower names,
and you remember too, even absent the experience
or a match of your own. And then they let go, the boat’s motor
humming a minor third over the bees in your right hand.
C. Henry Smith makes poems in Oregon. His work has appeared in Jabberwock Review, DMQ Review, River River, Peach Velvet Mag, Dillydoun Review, and others. He has enjoyed residencies through Spring Creek Project and Chicago Art Department and is currently pursuing an MFA at Oregon State University. @chenrysmith