5. From The Book Of David: dancer

I have ruled

for forty years,

seven in hebron

thirty-three in Jerusalem


I have lain under the stars

and dreamed of foreign women.

I have dreamed my legs around them,



some nights,

holding them in the dream,

I would feel us

swallowed by the sky.


lately I have begun to bed

with virgins,

their round breasts warm

to an old man.


I hold my seed

still plentiful as stars.

it is not my time.


somewhere something is choosing.

I can feel it dancing in me,

something to do with

virgins and with stars.


I am grown old and full of days.

my thighs are trembling.

what will the world remember,

what matters to time,

I wonder,

the dancer or the dance?

–Lucille Clifton