Spring 2019, Volume 26

Poetry by Marcia B. Loughran

Tap Dance at the Nursing Home

I want to write a poem for my brother,
for packing his tap shoes, portable speaker,

big straw hat—
for flying to Wyoming for my birthday

promising to dance.
His tap show’s next week in Venice, California.

When the time came,
he didn’t want to, he wasn’t ready,

so perhaps this is a poem for my mother,
who sent an urgent message:

Don’t forget to do your dance.
So he did, he danced for us

dudes, ranch hands, cabin girls,
then flew to Massachusetts to dance

for my mother,
who couldn’t get to Wyoming.

He doesn’t have the routine down,
there are gaps

serious, sweaty giraffe of a man,
tapping his way across America.

Why tap? I asked when he started classes.
He said, Fifty and cancer.

I want to write a poem for my brother getting better;
that poem has to wait.

On his way to Logan Airport after dancing for my mother,
my brother stopped by Sunrise Manor Nursing

to see his friend George from high school.
George is there because of his brain

and he’s not going home.
When my brother arrived, the room was empty.

They were all in the lounge at the sing-along,
George the youngest by thirty-five years.

Maybe this is a poem for George.
When the singing was over

and the tambourines still,
my brother offered to dance

for George and a roomful of strangers—
old folks, nurses, singers.

I forgot the middle of the second number
it doesn’t matter, it’s all practice,

he told me, boarding the flight to LA.
Is this a poem for the people in wheelchairs,

people we will become,
people some of us are?

Or is it for me
and for you?

Diminished, not dead,
bemused by the dance

we invent as we go.
Why poems? You ask.

I say, Forty and infertility.
Let this be our poem:

Don’t forget to do your dance.
My brother’s tap show is Monday

at the Electric Lodge in Venice—
everybody’s welcome.




BIO: Marcia B. Loughran’s work has appeared in The New Guard, Pennsylvania English, The Santa Clara Review, The Evansville Review, Ellipsis, and Spoon River Poetry Review. Her chapbook Still Life with Weather won the 2016 WaterSedge Poetry Chapbook Prize. Marcia received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Bennington Writing Seminars in 2013. She reads her work in various bars, dives, bookstores and tiny theaters in New York City and the Catskills and is a regular at the Irish American Writers and Artists’ Salons. Marcia is a nurse practitioner and lives in Queens, NY.