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December 6, 2022

first dance

Frances Klein

(For Kris)

It’s been spring for days, but no one told the winter 

sun splashing light through the windows, 

apple juice after the ice cubes have melted. 

Tom Petty is here breaking hearts,

Louisiana Rain pouring down the speakers,

but he’s three days too late to break yours.

The light is as weak as your smile, so I lace 

our fingers, pull you up and close. Inside the walls 

of the song it’s closing time at the honky-tonk, 

and we’re slow dance grasping in the spotlight, 

arms around neck, head to chest. He toasted us 

on our wedding day, “may all of your dances

be first ones,” and here we are, taking the floor 

for our first dance in the days after

death. Around here no one hires DJs 

or dances at funerals, but shouldn’t we? 

Wouldn’t the ones we love enough to bury 

want us dancing with their memory? Wouldn’t 

the days and weeks feel more full if we spent them 

making one final mixtape? Myself, I want 

to be played out on a ?uestlove drumline, 

Kamal Gray making that keyboard sing. 

I want our son alone on the dancefloor 

with Diana Ross to hold him for me, 

Endless Loving him even after my heart gives out.

France Klein (she/her) is a poet and teacher writing at the intersection of disability and gender. She is the author of the chapbooks New and Permanent (Blanket Sea 2022) and The Best Secret (Bottlecap Press 2022). Klein currently serves as assistant editor of Southern Humanities Review. Readers can find more of her work at


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