Give me your hand and we will dance;
give me your hand and you will love me.
Like a single flower we will be,
like a single flower, nothing more.
—“Give Me Your Hand” (“Dáme la Mano”) by Gabriela Mistral
I dreamed of a friend in an orange checkered suit,
garish, clashing patterns, layered shades of yolk.
He milled, a hydrant, awkward midst the artsy party crowd.
Mortified, I hissed: why are you here?
He brightened. I’ve looked everywhere!
I thought I’d lost my chance.
The places I frequent are thin in godless times;
to be Olympian, hope and patience teeter.
But enough of that. Do you like my pants?
Give me your hand and we will dance.
He drew the blinds and took me in his arms.
I do not know the steps, I whined, and shuffled stiff.
They’re easy, he replied, though I often wonder if
the laurels people hang on strife
and being an enduring wife or husband
have not muddied things a bit. You see,
I do not need a maid and trust
you’ve had enough of joyless handymen
who’d nail your freedom to a tree.
Give me your hand and you will love me.
In time, my limbs began to melt
and I misplaced embarrassment. He led,
not like a general or a cold front pushing through
but like the tall straight mast of a merchant
sailing ship, with goods fair traded
in his hold. I think that we shall be,
he whispered in my ear, a golden pair
well matched, unfolding like the petals
of a rose, unprecedent, named Liberty.
Like a single flower we will be.
We woke entangled in a king-size bed
in Tuscany beneath an arbour
woven with bay laurel and anemone.
It must be spring, I reasoned, peering
‘neath the sheets at what he’d brought.
A lot! We laughed from bed to floor
and rolled across to where our view
of self-created destiny was clear.
We’d risen, both, to all that we adore
like a single flower, and nothing more.
Happy New Year, one and all!
© Elaine Stirling, 2017
Image of Tuscan garden design by Tim Street-Porter
Translation of “Dame La Mano” by Elaine Stirling