Dance of Oaks by Clarence Wolfshohl

Saturday nights the old folks scrub the dirt
from under their nails, as best they can,
wear dress comfortable shoes, go dance,
go to St. Hedwig or Liederkranz Hall,
go to talk crops and rain, go to drink beer—
beer barreled belly farmers and their wives
in clean starched cotton dresses like lampshades
glowing on the dance floor for this night.

Some people dance like saplings in the morning breezes,
sliding between other couples softly,
silent their steps in the hush of the dance,
and the music slips through them like their hands.

These farmers are oaks in the morning breeze,
grand in their resistance, creaking their limbs
knotted with fibers hard to the core,
the polka pumping to the beat of their hearts.

The old folks hop slower than the band,
heaving movements like tree crowns
lifted a gust of wind at a time, a half-beat behind
the wind’s song. They have grown thick, grown deep,
oaks dancing the polka.