Wafts of old incense mixed with Cuban coffee
Hung on the air; a fan turned; it was summer.
And (of the buried life) some last aroma
Still clung to the tumbled cushions of the sofa.

At lesson time, pushed back, it used to be
The thing we managed always just to miss
With our last-second dips and twirls—all this
While the Victrola wound down gradually.

And this was their exile, those brave ladies who taught us
So much of art, and stepped off to their doom
Demonstrating the foxtrot with their daughters
Endlessly around a sad and makeshift ballroom—

O little lost Bohemias of the suburbs!

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 6 Number 9, on page 44
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