Michael was 32 years old. By all appearances he was still in his youth. Larger than life on stage and off, you always knew when Michael was in a room. His artistic presence as a dancer was powerful. During Alan Scofield’s dance class at The College of Marin, Michael collapsed. He died immediately of a massive coronary attack. The community was in shock. We gathered 300+ strong to honor Michael’s life. I was coming back from a business trip, and was sitting in the passenger seat of the car, scribbling away at this poem I had promised to read that afternoon. This is my letter to Michael.
Poem for Michael, the Dancer
It is a full moon on your death
And all I can think about is your life;
How you turned my kitchen upside down
For the sake of the gravy last Thanksgiving;
How you made my children laugh with your
Funny faces and mouth noises at the table;
How your body flexes and bends to your
Demands, leaps and curls, writhes to the poetry
And song of the dance, to the snap of it all.
I watch you now, your life dance an India rubber ball;
Bouncing out of bounds, retrieved with a big slobbery pant,
Now large, now small, crouched in a quiet corner of the universe.
The spotlight that follows you casts a long shadow,
Missing its mark.
We try to fill it with meaning and are not
Successful because no one can really do that.
It is empty, this shadow dance.
But then we try to fill it with love
And the dance begins.
The dance will be because of you;
Because of you we will move in ways
We would not otherwise know.