Joseph Mills: When the Dance Instructor Says “Follow Your Partner’s Lead”



When the Dance Instructor Says “Follow Your Partner’s Lead”

Ignore the imperative,
the possessive “your,”
the complicated questions
of trust and simply ask,
how you can both
“follow your partner’s lead.”

Wouldn’t that be
an Escher painting,
a Moebius strip?

I’m following you
following me
following you

and perhaps that’s the point.
Most in relationships
understand the ebb and flow
that occurs, the changing
of places and leads
over the day and days and years.
Of what good is it
to assign positions
to the wave and the water?
Which hand is responsible
for what happens
when hand meets hand?



About the Author, Joseph Mills: A faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, I have published six collections of poetry, most recently “Exit, pursued by a bear” which consists of poems triggered by stage directions in Shakespeare. My book “This Miraculous Turning” was awarded the North Carolina Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for its exploration of race and family. Last year I published my debut work of fiction, “Bleachers: 54 linked fictions” which takes place at a youth soccer game.


Image Credit: Russell Lee “Round dance. Pie Town, New Mexico. Among people where square dancing is the usual form of dancing, regular ball room dancing is called “round dancing” (1940) The Library of Congress

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