Jack Grapes


         TIME TO DANCE

Thereís too much time to sing,

and not enough time to dance.

The sea is for singing, the land for dancing,

and the dog that will not die

does both.

My grandfather told me this

when I was 12 and heíd been dead for thirty years.

My grandfather on my motherís side.

My grandfather on my fatherís side, we donít know

when he died, having abandoned the family

when my father was two.

Iím writing this down

camping by the Kern River,

where there are no watches to measure time or distance.

Josh does his dance by the tent

and Gina notices that his feet move like my feet,

meaning one of my grandfathers

still speaks and moves through him.

This poem, then, is a song to my son,

and to my wife, and my friends,

who do this dance with me.

And I am grateful for the kind of richness

that refuses to be turned into art.

Trees, then rocks, then mountains, then sky,

then clouds, then God, who forgives

me for knowing he doesnít exist.

Still, I thank Him for all Heís given me,

nothing Iíve dared ask for, nothing

I would have dared pray for,

but not a day goes by that I donít send up

little balloons of thank-youís.

When I made my birthday wish,

which we celebrated last night around the campfire,

I wished for each one of my friends

a life full of everything God has given meó

a God who doesnít even exist.

He hears our songs, He accepts our dances.

And sometimes I wonder, especially at night,

if He will punish me and take everything away,

a punishment Iíd duly deserve for my lack of faith.

Iíd like to say to him,

I believe in you, you are there,

but I canít. He knows how badly I want to be able to say this.

But I know what I know.

The truth will not go away.

The unspeakable things we do to each other and to the children.

Job asked Him for a reason and was scolded

just for asking.

The gall, to question the Creator about the world He created.

I donít deserve my good fortune,

yet accept it without question.

My wife, my son, my deep and truest friends

who love me.

And itís all too much to hold or carry.

Thereís so much to sing about,

Iíve hardly begun to dance,

and thereís so little time to dance.

I would dance. I would dance with Him who gave me so much,

but would He dance with me?

Would He open his arms and follow my lead,

me, who dares not question,

who receives and receives and gives

Him nothing back, not even a question directed straight at Him,

not even the heartfelt supplication

of one small prayer.

Copyright © 2002 Jack Grapes.  All Rights Reserved.

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