Daisy was remembering a mutual friend, who died a while back. She wasn’t old enough to die but she did, anyway. I shall call her Amy. We were talking about dancing – that’s how it came up. Daisy said something to the effect that she herself had always been self-conscious about dancing and I said it was the same with me. Wanted to dance, just…
And Daisy said she remembered Amy dancing, and how she really got into the music at any social event, let it carry her away; dancing in a world of her own. Amy was kind of small and freckly and had a twisted back, and yet when she danced people looked only at her dancing, took pleasure in the sight of her, dreaming with her feet. Isn’t that the best memorial?
I stumbled across a list of 100 prompts, which I thought I might attempt. Not necessarily one a day for the next 100 days (heaven forefend!). Number 1 is Dance. It’ll be a bit random, since I’m in a random sort of mood tonight:
When I was a child I was sent to the Methodist. Every Sunday morning I would sit and not-listen to the sermon, which was usually accompanied by a lot of fist-thumping and proclamation. One preacher had a leather belt which didn’t seem to make any indentation in the waist of the long black robe he wore. He used to preach with his eyes tight shut. Strange, colourless eyelashes. I was fascinated by this. I could never decide whether he was blind. While I was not-listening I was watching dust particles dancing in the sunlight as it streamed through our broken stained-glass windows. Light of many colours, with dust. And it seemed to me that this was God, this dancing.
I was always drawn to water. I told myself it was because I was an Aquarius – then I read Aquarius was an air sign, in spite of the water-carrier, so that put paid to that theory. Even now I could sit by a country stream or city fountain for hours, watching the dance the water makes. I watched a girl swimming once, in a green river. The river weed flowed alongside her. They danced together.
In my breaks from twilight shift at the call centre I used to go and sit in my car. Anything was better than a kitchen full of swearing teenagers and out-of-date celebrity magazines. I would attempt to think of nothing at all for ten minutes, to get all those electronic voices out of my head. I would watch the trees dancing against the darkening sky, not quite silhouetted yet. One evening it occurred to me that this is the way trees express themselves, this is their art form, the making of patterns against the sky. It’s the spaces in between things as much as the things themselves, as my husband used to say.
I read a book by a Mills & Boon author once. She was saying how she found the title for one of her many best-selling romances – The Moon Dancers. She and her husband had been staying at the seaside. Late one evening they had gone for a walk along the promenade. As she leaned on the rail and looked out over the waves she saw the moon reflecting off them. For a moment she thought she saw a million tiny couples circling in a vast, watery ballroom. Inspiration’s a funny thing, isn’t it?
I think of that bit in The Prelude by Wordsworth. The bit where he’s out skating on a frozen river, dancing on the ice with his friends. He stops, suddenly, and it seems to him that the world continues to dance around him.
When we had given our bodies to the wind,
And all the shadowy banks on either side
Came sweeping through the darkness, spinning still
The rapid line of motion, then at once
Have I, reclining back upon my heels,
Stopped short; yet still the solitary cliffs
Wheeled by me…