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Salem, 1693

I didn’t know how to waltz 

before I got here; 

now I think these steps 

are the only knowledge 

I have, save my love 

for you, my cindered princess; 

your dress, once white, now singed, 

spills soot in time with 

our steps, the steps 

my only way of knowing time 

moves in this ballroom; 

your burns have never healed 

my hair has never dried 

and the invisible orchestra 

has never finished a song; 

but nothing else matters 

when I can have you with me, 

when the charred skin sloughing 

off you heals at my touch, 

when the pond scum on the soles 

of my feet doesn’t stain the white 

tile; nothing before this dance 

mattered, either- I can hardly 

recall the feeling of the water 

filling my lungs, the scrape  

of the rope on my wrists- 

you can hardly 

recall the heat of the flames 

licking the tips your fingers, 

just a taste test before swallowing 

you whole- we can hardly 

recall, but we know; 

we waltz and we know, 

and we don’t ask how we came to 

this ballroom, because we know, 

you with your welted arms and 

me with my waterlogged eyes, 

we know. 

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