Peter Cooley

Dancer on One Foot

All my friends are dead, my aunt said, her late eighties.
At seventy-seven, I’m treading down her path:
Tom, Linda, Raquel, Fred, Elmer, Dorothy.
Jacki, my wife, me, a dinner party mid-seventies.
And only me still here.
                                                               Therefore, I will inscribe
these few lines about the morning at my feet,
insistence of the sun on following me around
as I shave and shower, dress, now make the bed.

The East windows are tabernacle-bright,
every pane another frieze of gold,
But it’s the light down here, hopping, uninvited,
the one-legged bird with a shriveled wing—
this is my follower who makes me follow him,
who dances on one-foot, rehearsing joy,
who flies across the skies I’ve never seen,
the cloud- cover he travels on the floor.

His light is the discovery of old age,
possibilities, dark-shining in everything.



Peter Cooley’s tenth book, World Without Finishing, was published by Carnegie Mellon in 2018. From 2015-2017 Cooley was the Louisiana Poet Laureate.