Three Dances by Kate Bennis

two wooden dolls dancing
Dolls Dancing by JP. CC license.


I wrote these poems to capture and preserve real events. They depict shifts from isolation and loss to connection and love—the dance of relationships in unexpected places, with unexpected dance partners. I witnessed two men, so clearly from different worlds, collapse together in a moment of grief and compassion. The second poem tells the story of a friend’s struggle to remember who is familiar and who is foreign, as early onset dementia takes hold. And the third shows the dance of freedom that comes from the structure of love and belonging. —Kate Bennis


l. Waiting for the big red truck with tinted windows

and the small white truck with hay bales
to fill their tanks and scoot over.
No other gas for miles.

At last, the numbers stop spinning,

the nozzles are lifted and replaced,

the caps slowly twisted tight.
The drivers linger on the asphalt.

Their trucks blocking access.

Their pace robbing time.

One, head shaved,
dark wrap-around glasses,
baseball hat low,
ventilated football jersey stretched tight.

The other, slight,
in faded and ironed jeans,
soft flannel shirt,
small wire-rimmed glasses,
gray curly hair.

Soft gestures and hushed voices.
Eyes on the ground.
The gentleman farmer’s son waits off to the side.

My fingers strum on the steering wheel,
I focus my glare.

The broad shoulders shudder.

The first snow slips silently off of the mountain,

then an avalanche.
The slight man swiftly catches him up,

Arms wrapping hard and tight

While the shoulders quake. And quake.
The frail shoulder accepts the wet face,

the dripping nose, the splotchy cheeks.

The boy,
the trucks ,
the other cars,

and I,
all wait

for the dance

to end.

black and photo of girl in dress
Confusion by Erik. CC license.

She is a child once more.

All is new and strange.
Does she remember her friend?
They walked just yesterday.
The friend cajoles and embraces.
She’s not sure.
She smiles, though with a question mark.
Her friend pulls her to dance.
She is afraid.
The friend laughs and does not give up her loving.

But pulls her into a wild spinning embrace.
Oh, yes! Her friend! Her friend!



The kids run down the aisles
Their dollars clutched tight.
The mother reminds them,
“My kids! No junk food! Just stuff!”

The teenage visiting cousin

Emerges around the corner

Holding a bag of mini candy bars,

A box of powdered donuts,

A large soft drink.

The mother looks and turns away.
The teenage visiting cousin stands still.

She holds the items higher.

The mother scours the aisles,

IBella by NFGPhoto. CC license.
IBella by NFGPhoto. CC license.

“Kids, hurry up!”

“Hey, she got candy! And donuts!”

“And soda!”
“The rules are for just for my kids.”

“I’m not your kid?”

You are. You are.”

The teenage visiting cousin

dances through the aisles

Tossing away her alone-ness.

kb-laughingKate is an actor, writer, speaker and communication coach who lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with her family of inspiring co-conspirators.



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