“Dancing Toward Bethlehem”

In another sampling of “Yvonne remembers her dreams” again, last night, I dreamt that I was standing in a music studio with Brian Littrell, the lead (or who I considered the “lead”) singer of the Backstreet Boys, and we were discussing the poet Billy Collins’s poem “Dancing Toward Bethlehem.” I’ve recently started re-reading poems that I enjoyed back in high school and college for nostalgia’s sake, and also because I’ve been reading the more modern poetry of Rupi Kaur. This was a very odd discussion, though, because we were exploring how to dissect and potentially rearrange this poem to make it into a song. I have no ear for anything, but Brian was attempting to make certain lines of the poem into a chorus and hum tunes for what he thought was fitting, while I was trying to figure out which parts of the poem would be good for a chorus and/or a bridge.

The strangest part of this entire dialogue and exchange was that we never once took our eyes off each other’s eyes. It was as though we had the poem memorized, and the only place our eyes could look towards was each others’.

I don’t even know what that means.

If you were interested, this is the magical poem we were deliberating over:

Dancing Toward Bethlehem

by Billy Collins

If there is only enough time in the final
minutes of the twentieth century for one last dance
I would like to be dancing it slowly with you,

say, in the ballroom of a seaside hotel.
My palm would press into the small of your back
as the past hundred years collapsed into a pile
of mirrors or buttons or frivolous shoes,

just as the floor of the nineteenth century gave way
and disappeared in a red cloud of brick dust.
There will be no time to order another drink
or worry about what was never said,

not with the orchestra sliding into the sea
and all our attention devoted to humming
whatever it was they were playing.

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