Dances of Life, Dances of Death

Joe Nickell

1

In Argentina,
this once,
the tango
dancers
dance
for me,
who sees

a tilt, a turn,
a glance,

a spin,
a hiked-leg stance,
and then

the two are one,
and their romance
becomes
the dancers
as
the dance.

2

Birds dance
and sing in the sky
over Buenos Aires.
But I
hear the cry
of a mourning dove,
carried on the wind above

the cemetery of Recoleta.

It could almost be the echo
of the Madres
of Plaza de Mayo—

the sad mothers
of los desapar-
ecidos—
“the disappeared.”

3

Somewhere
sons,
even
daughters,
flailed in gunfire
before
hidden
graves: dancers

of death, los
desaparecidos.

Or met
some other fate,

plummeting

from a plane—
a final mime—

into water
somewhere

at night: los
desaparecidos.

4

Where

are the fancied
angels of light,
or ghosts expected to haunt
the waiting family crypts?

Is there not
even this
wished-for
trace of los
desapar-ecidos?

Who will dance for them?

The Madres turn
in a sorrowful waltz around
the plaza, aging
ones,
waiting
for their own
dying,
slowly dancing
this circular path,

a dance
of life, a dance
of death.

Joe Nickell

Joe Nickell, PhD, is a former investigator with a world-famous detective agency who has been consulted in homicide and questioned-document cases. Among his numerous books are Relics of the Christ and The Science of Miracles.


1 In Argentina, this once, the tango dancers dance for me, who sees a tilt, a turn, a glance, a spin, a hiked-leg stance, and then the two are one, and their romance becomes the dancers as the dance. 2 Birds dance and sing in the sky over Buenos Aires. But I hear the cry …

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