Buffalo Gal

won't you come out tonight, 
dance by the light of the moon
wear the red dress you made 
on the old foot-treadle Singer machine
from a red cotton yard you brought 
by wagon all the way from Kankakee  

won't you come out tonight swinging 
those cello hips, pigtails flying, 
you will be scandalous,
turkey trot and hesitation waltz,
fiddler on a mission, banjo picker's fingers 
never leave his hands, guitar boy all astrum

won't you come out tonight the barn spins 
into midnight you rise above it all whirling
swirling hurricane, spirits high as bathtub gin, 
ragtime dancing, doo-dah, doo-dah
lock arms and do-si-do
glimpses of your ankles and your knees

won't you come out tonight bring grandma 
and the children, everybody washed in the old tub 
whether they need it or not, 
papa wears his new Stetson and the store-bought shirt
eight women do the quadrille, swapping partners,
real men can't be bothered  

won't you come out tonight looking to court and spark, 
Tex, cleaned up pretty good, spent two bits 
for a shave, a haircut and a hot bath 
at the barbershop, handsome rooster,
does a buck and wing, one arm raised, one foot
in the air, followed by a heel-click of his shiny boots

won't you come out tonight, kick up a soft shoe, 
the chores will wait until tomorrow's rise, 
the crops are in and the fall has arrived, 
come allemande left, promenade right,  
two-step me out in the Coeur d'Alene night,
come dance by the light of the ragamuff moon.  

(First published in Front Porch Review - 2021)

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