On Being Fred Astaire
Through Automatic Doors
by James Penha

At the lightest touch of the tip of the toe
of my black patent leather pump
I felt the                   surge     of power
and she arced
back from nine to noon. She
paused, quivered, waited.
“I sing the body electric,” he said but sang
instead “A Fine Romance.”
As he
               bounced ahead, accelerated,
poco meno mossa, stepped
from side to side
in three quarter
swing time,
she responded with
Adele’s fondness,
Ginger’s starlight,
Barrie’s ardor,
the strength of Cyd,
steel and glass.
“Welcome shoppers!” I was trapped.
She nestled in her jamb.

PHOTO: The poet in Fred’s white tie and (not visible) tails.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have adapted this poem for the Silver Birch Press “My Imaginary Skill” series from a version that was originally published in Milkweed Chronicle in (gulp!) 1980.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and in poetry. His essay “It’s Been a Long Time Coming” was featured in The New York Times “Modern Love” column in April 2016.  Penha edits TheNewVerse.News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Visit him on Twitter @JamesPenha.