Why I Like “First Dance” by Frances Klein

Why I LIke This Poem

“First Dance”, published in Full Mood Magazine, Mood #3, Melomania: https://www.fullmoodmag.com/first-dance

The world of this poem is immediately present and intimate. I stand in the kitchen with the narrator, the scene suffused with pale sunshine, a song—and then grief enters. I haven’t been told who died, but the grief is fresh. The invitation to dance is tender, the image of a spotlight in a dark bar wraps its arms around the intense pain of loss. Comfort is bestowed and accepted, and then, in the dance, the poem expands beyond the moment.

With each reading, the poem becomes slower, more meditative in its movement. The fluid shift from present to memory at “he toasted us”, from statements to questions at “no one hires DJs / or dances at funerals, but shouldn’t we?” and then to answers at “Myself, I want”. This meditative mood is enhanced by the ordinary, homey language full of liquid sounds. Soft spaces, nothing formal.

I love that “First Dance” addresses possibilities within mourning. The author doesn’t shy away from the devastating inevitability of her own mortality or the impact of her death on her son. The poem delicately holds both pain and healing in its gaze. With every phrase, I’m invited deeper into the dance, the kitchen-floor sway. No rush to leave, fully present with what needs to be felt.


Why I Like This Poem is a series of mini-reviews of poems I like. You have no obligation to like them too, but if you do, I’d love to hear about it. Comments here will be moderated out of kindness to my fellow humans.

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