mata dancing

You figure if you just keep moving, maybe you’ll be able to get away
maybe even return to that time before you learned to worry
before the restlessness took hold.

You had been educated and you wanted to make a difference
but they didn’t take you seriously.
All they could see when they looked at you was sex —
that proud nose
unapologetic eyes blinking equality
lips full of suggestion and longing for adventure.

The first time you sold yourself was as a mail order bride
to a rich husband in a far off land,
because where there is money there is freedom.
You gave him two children —
it’s not your fault the boy died —
but the husband drank like he didn’t know how to love anyone
and didn’t even try to hide the mistress.
What ever was wrong, you were to blame
so you kept moving
and the movement turned into dance —
the only way to stay sane.
Dancing filled you up with light
so you shone like the sun —
eye of the day — Mata Hari.

You escaped with the girl
until he broke you, took her from you,
and there was nothing left to do but survive.

You joined the circus and posed for artists
and kept dancing, always dancing now.
Casting off the shame they tried to make you wear
you beguiled audiences with long braids and lots of leg.
You let millionaires pay the bills,
told exotic stories, the Oriental fantasies they wanted to believe were true,
and when cheap imitations and critics tried to pull you down
you danced offstage into the arms of one after another powerful man.

Uniforms could not protect them from your charms —
you crossed borders —
they could not resist you,
and so they killed you
even though they could not prove you were a spy —
because you were not afraid,
because you would not stop moving and they couldn’t pin you down.

You sold yourself to them but you could not be controlled
and so they punished you for you for your lack of scruples.
It was your fault they succumbed —
femme fatale, seductress —
dancing women are dangerous
double dutch double crossing double agent.
Dancing your way to death,
you looked them in the eye,
15 October 1917,
as the sun rose in a shower of bullets near Saint Lazare.

— ag
15 October 2015

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