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"May I have this dance?” is a cheesy come-on

or perhaps a gallant geste.

When Death himself comes waltzing over

Iʼll say, “hey, dog, Iʼve done my best.”

When Death himself comes waltzing over,

heʼll ask, “Best what?” and Iʼll reply,

“Iʼve done my best to live my fullest,

until my last breath, until I die.”

Such badinage in a peaceful moment

rehearses for a fated time

when the band plays its pièce de resistánce,

“The Last Dance”, saved for an inevitable rhyme.

Iʼve romped and rhymed and kept the meter,

Iʼve kept the beat – do you hear my heart pound?

Dear friends, whatever could be sweeter

than the systolic pulses, lifeʼs great sound.

And now the tide is at its fullest,

swelling with the moonʼs embrace.

I live. I sing. I dance on water.

Impossible! Yet full of grace.

Whateverʼs beyond, right now is forever,

right now is good enough for me.

Death is over my shoulder, familiar spirit,

forever keeping company.

The medieval death dance I first encountered

in Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal”

inspired my adolescent girlhood

and taught me life and death are real


Still real, from reel to reel, that movie,

still poetry within my soul,

still music that will keep me dancing

from farandole to rock and roll.

“May I have this dance?” How courtly,

“May I have this dance?” Fie, sir! You dare?

Death, you are a sprightly dancer,

and I am still as free as air.