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Poem: "Like Nobody's Watching" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Like Nobody's Watching"

This poem came out of the June 19, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by janetmiles and sponsored by the general fund.  You can read more about Irish, Norwegian, and Swedish folk dances, the cláirseach, and the nyckelharpa online.  This poem belongs to the series Hart's Farm, and you can find the other poems via the Serial Poetry page.


Like Nobody's Watching


There was always music at Hart's Farm,
someone singing or playing in the background.
Then about once a week, they held an actual dance.
Now every village had its own variations of the folk dances,
but Auduna had never seen anything quite like this before.

She recognized some of the steps,
and some of the music, and then it got strange.
There was something like a polska
but with four dancers instead of two
and not dancing in place but moving.
The young men performed a halling
but there was something about the way
they picked up their feet that looked different.
The ring dance used a side step that Auduna
felt certain would break her ankles if she tried it.

She loved the music, though,
Soren with quick fingers on the fiddle
and Leif playing a nyckelharpa
with its complicated keys and bow.
Aisling sat on a bench plucking the wire-strung harp
that she called a cláirseach,
bright sweet notes falling from her hands.

Auduna tapped her foot as she listened.
"Would you like to dance?" Bergren invited.
"No, thank you," she said.
Arnvid asked her next, and she declined again.
Then she had to turn down Lia and Inge,
who thought she might prefer a female partner.

Arnvid's daughter Astrid asked,
"Don't you like dancing?"
"Yes, but I don't know the steps," Auduna said.
"Oh, there are all kinds," Astrid said.
"There are Swedish and Norwegian ones,
and lots of Irish, and I think some from England too."

"I certainly can't keep up with that,"
Auduna said.  She stared at the tangle of dancers.
"So pretend," Astrid said,
tugging insistently on Auduna's hand.

"What am I supposed to pretend?"
Auduna said as Astrid dragged her onto the floor.
"Pretend like nobody's watching,"
Astrid said.  "Just do what the music does,
and you'll have fun."

The music was laughing itself silly,
Auduna thought.  She had Astrid on one hand
and Bjarni on the other.  To be sure,
the children weren't trying
to do any of the fancy steps.
They were just bouncing around
more or less in time to the chiming notes.

Auduna quit trying to make sense of the steps
and simply made something up.
The song took her by the hand
and twirled her across the floor.

Astrid was right.
This was much  more fun.

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Current Mood: busy busy

11 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
zianuray From: zianuray Date: June 24th, 2012 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
*Nods* Yes, much more fun that way!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 24th, 2012 11:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

I'm no good at dancing unless I can get the music to do the work for me.
zianuray From: zianuray Date: June 24th, 2012 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Exactly, that's why I can't care how I look, or I'd never move at all!
je_reviens From: je_reviens Date: July 3rd, 2012 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
loooooooove your icon...
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: June 24th, 2012 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hee!
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: June 25th, 2012 01:59 am (UTC) (Link)
:-D
fyreharper From: fyreharper Date: January 20th, 2014 05:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eeee, I love this so much! :cuddles up in it:

I play harp, and have friends who play nyckleharpa (which is awesome), and I've recently started doing contra dancing. The dance I go to is "gender-free", which means the parts are called as bands/bares (armbands/barearms) rather than ladies/gents, which is really nice (and after starting there, going to a more-typical contra was a little strange!).

I'm pretty firmly in the 'yeah, living at Hart's Farm would be fantastic' camp, so reading this and recognizing the feel of it because I do have this in some parts of my life here... happy warm fuzzies, and something I think I needed the reminder of.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 21st, 2014 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

>> Eeee, I love this so much! :cuddles up in it: <<

I'm happy to hear that.

>> I play harp, and have friends who play nyckleharpa (which is awesome), and I've recently started doing contra dancing. The dance I go to is "gender-free", which means the parts are called as bands/bares (armbands/barearms) rather than ladies/gents, which is really nice (and after starting there, going to a more-typical contra was a little strange!). <<

That is all so awesome. I often favor masculine role in dancing, when it's feasible. (Does not work for swing with my_partner_doug. Works with some folk dances though.) And of course I love harp music.

>> I'm pretty firmly in the 'yeah, living at Hart's Farm would be fantastic' camp, so reading this and recognizing the feel of it because I do have this in some parts of my life here... happy warm fuzzies, and something I think I needed the reminder of. <<

I'm glad you have a sense of community.
From: thaddeus_tad Date: July 31st, 2014 01:21 am (UTC) (Link)

From: The Tadpole

This series has so far been exactly the right softness. Thank you.

XD Also, I am a very poor dancer, but find that letting the music tell me what to do helps. Unfortunately, I'm not yet at a place where I can do it near others.

xP I hope you're satisfied. I had to remember what my login for this site was. This account only exists because a friend wanted me to be able to read her private posts.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 31st, 2014 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: From: The Tadpole

>> This series has so far been exactly the right softness. Thank you. <<

Yay! If you like it, you can ask for more.

>> XD Also, I am a very poor dancer, but find that letting the music tell me what to do helps. Unfortunately, I'm not yet at a place where I can do it near others. <<

That's okay. Maybe you'll feel like dancing with other people eventually.

I'm no use as a dancer unless the music does the work for me. So I can belly dance, and a bit of Irish, but my attempts at swing have been infelicitous.

>> xP I hope you're satisfied. I had to remember what my login for this site was. This account only exists because a friend wanted me to be able to read her private posts. <<

:D I am pleased that you found something new to enjoy.


cflute From: cflute Date: December 9th, 2016 08:01 am (UTC) (Link)

the beat goes on

Brilliant Astrid! Brave Auduna! I'm torn between wanting to be on the dance floor, or playing flute or recorder in the band. Very much the dilemma in "The Heart of Summer", which imo dovetails beautifully with this Hart. :-)
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