by Pat Daneman

On the night of the dance, we were afraid
it would rain. We had purple dresses, ruby dresses
with sequins, hair teased from our necks, 

dancing shoes. There was no dance. There were boys
hiding in cars with steamed-up windows. A report
of a man with a gun. The smell of grass clippings

mixed with the smell of lawn mower exhaust.
The police knocked on our doors, told our mothers
to keep us inside. There were fireflies. Unfallen rain 

hid in the trees like the two boys who hid in the rafters
the night of our play. The play with no second act.
We’d gone to auditions, rehearsals. Rolled up our sleeves, 

knelt down with the knees torn out of our jeans.
Painted the moon and stars on canvas, pricked our fingers
with sewing needles. When the curtain went up,

we spit out our hearts on the stage, the eyes of our audience
glowed like raindrops spinning in streetlights. We believed
they were looking at us until something dropped, 

someone screamed. On the night of no second act,
we went home in our makeup. There was no starlight,
only the reflections of streetlights, drawing us 

to bedroom windows. The moon had a cloud
stuffed in its mouth. We touched the glass, wanting so much
to be touched back by more than our own reflections.

Pat Daneman’s poetry is widely published, most recently in Mid American Review, Naugatuck River Review, and Poet’s Touchstone. Her full-length collection, After All, was first runner-up for the 2019 Thorpe-Menn Award and a finalist for the Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award. She is author of a chapbook, Where the World Begins, and co-librettist of the oratorio, We, the Unknown, premiered by the Heartland Men’s Chorus. She lives in Candia, NH. You can read more of her writing at