Mark Weiss: Suite of Dances XXIV

Song of a Leaping Girl

Unfolds herself from the chair.


Each line a decision.


“Already the years will pass without me.”


This time of year no nights are green,

Maid Marian.


Lost thoughts

now revealed in all their nakedness.


The lover and his loss.




Here on Treasure Island.



the Lord of the Isles

the King of Skye.


Simultaneity of forms.


The desperate lives of squirrels.


The random wilderness,

the stories we never told.


As a Jew among Christians

it’s never forgotten.

The map of the world a map of scars.


Songs of a leaping girl.

Remember how terrible this beauty,

and what its cost.


Sometimes the simplest tunes.


Heroes, for the children

who survive.


Your fate is Fate.

Your fate’s to be fated.


Those rhyming twins the Sun and Moon

whom a dream hath possessed.

“You may talk to god,

but not to me.” And he,

“I am the only god

you need to talk to.”


Bring your name and nothing more and come to me

here in the mountains.





Starting out

with a version

of there.


And something else had happened.


It's the simple things

that get forgotten.



Of poverty

a virtue

among his tribe.


The little girl protests her innocence,

realizes it’s hopeless,


and frowns.


Does mind speak

in this figurine?


If you wish, I can tell you

what you want to know.


Trick. Tricked out

and in.


So deft, she seems

to play an air

one strains

to listen for.


With a sigh,

Relents. It had been

too long.


Here it is, without a cause

in the world.


He prophesized:

you were offered

an end of time,

but it didn’t happen.

Hold your breath

and it will still be there.

Prepare for other times.





My heart is not my own,

he said, re



Little enough to say.



Small dog

alone in the cold

cries for its master.


Teach acceptance to a crippled child.


They clothe their skins

with skins. “My skins,”                  

they call them.


Like a tune gone inwards.


In the in and out of sleep.


“You’re the machine that squeaks,”

she tells him.


One learns the figures of the dance.


A table precise as an altar. Why not?

And eats the slain.


A woman

in water.

“So you say,”

she said.



or athwart upon.


Hunger pangs. “We all feel them,”

she told her children, “never mind.”

And went about her chores.


The same

woman, late

and soon.


A smear of meaning.




In the story a man digs a hole. Finding nothing,

he digs further, through eruptions and earthquakes and rising seas

and swamps and glaciers.

Nothing, no bones, no shards.

Autumn turns to winter turns to spring.

This hole

the only thing that’s ever been there.

And on a day that’s not

the anniversary of anything, he’s done, enough,

and notices the sky, the plants, the breeze,

the hills that fill his yard,

and smiles. He thinks,

I’ll place a marker here.



The serial exile’s procession of names.


Last chances are last chances.


Distill in silence.


All dead, these brief creatures,

says the tree.


Gray day   red head in a green

glade bobs above the privet.


The light

picks out a moment

from the edges of cities.


Not the ball, but the arc

it traces, as a white thought

carries the wind.


In the morning she looks in the mirror,

and sighs. Stains

of whatever histories.

The moment’s gravity. And the sun

has also marked her passage.


Reflections of clouds

and reflected on clouds

and reflections of clouds.


Cried and cried,

and then she died.


Little enough

to save from the wreck.



[NOTE. A writer of remarkable skills and insights, Weiss has written of the present venture: “I’ve joked before that my work isn’t so much composition by field as composition of field. A Suite of Dances might be composition by notebook. It’s an extension of the way I’ve worked for the past 25 years. Probably I’ve been reacting to an anxiety felt by translators, historians, and archaeologists in the absence of context. This is close to context in the absence of event. Though I hope that there’s something like an architecture, perhaps musical, holding it together. The title suggests, for me, at least, the baroque, when suites of dances were a major form, and my understanding of baroque art in all media as an attempt to experience the heterogeneity of event not as chaos but as something like a grand, encompassing chord. The selection above is part 24 of 28 named parts, filling 200 pages.” An earlier section appeared previously in Poems and Poetics.]