Duende ©Ramon Lombarte

Portrait of a Dancer
She moves like liquid fire
Rhythm lights her way
Motion is her language
What will the music say?

 She teases with a playful strut
Her swaying form calls out
Rising arms lift up her voice
And let her spirit shout

With catlike grace she stalks
There's danger in her eyes
Her sudden spinning captures
The music by surprise

Hypnotic butterflies
Flit within her hands
Weaving visions out of sound
Like castles made of sand

Sinking slowly by degrees
An ember burning down
In musical submission
She lets her spirit drown

-Sonja Torres 1997


Not The Night (For Sweet Revenge)*

She finished her drink. It would be the last tonight. The pain had receded enough for her to feel something else. What that was she wasn't sure. Rage? Yes, it was always there, right next to frustration. The music changed, calling up other needs. She rose knowing she must act. She smiled in irony. The song was "It's Not the Night." Yes, this was the night.

Her body knew it as she paced with the sharp chords. Not the night for sweet revenge, but she reached out anyway. She spun on a toe, throwing her head back. 'Crazy eyes', she hid them behind her hands. Slowly then, she reached out, one arm at a time, to the mirrored eyes watching. Quick steps spun her across the floor then halted abruptly at the shift in the melody. Her serpentine told of sweet revenge, swaying hips following the beat. She stopped, turning quickly, pulling outstretched arms back in...'not the night...' Again the sensuous swaying, need calling, rage building, till she stepped out in a strut then turned slowly. Her cold face was a lie to the heat in her eyes as she she looked at those looking. She dropped to break the gaze, hide the lie, then rose slowly, arms coming up above her head, eyes following. A pirouette and toss of hair...'the time is right...' Again she spun a quick slash across the floor. 'Not the spend.' She slowed and swayed, legs apart, hips thrusting side to side in the beat. She reached upward, one hand just behind the other, then swept her arms down as she turned, half spinning. Her back to any watchers was an angry wall slowly falling, from a shift of her shoulders cascading to a swing of hips, a bend of one knee, then the other. She became a wave falling over and over as the music softened. She turned slowly as she wove the spell, facing them as the last notes died. In silence then, she walked away.

SMT 1998

*Not The Night (For Sweet Revenge), The Cars


It's Not the Night--A Closer Look

She looked them over as she walked away, wondering what they saw. As she scanned their faces a familiar disappointment gripped her heart. Some stared openly. She tried to shrug off the dirty feeling. To them she was little more than a whore. They would take her body, satisfy themselves, then leave. Other eyes held curiosity with their lust, as if she was some exotic animal on display. She sighed. They would be disappointed when they learned the truth. They expected what, an angel? A living dream? They would leave when she couldn't live up to their imaginings. They didn't want a mere woman, full of flaws, weaknesses and needs. Several pairs of eyes quickly found somewhere else to look when they met hers. Cowards. They wouldn't face her because they couldn't face themselves. She had learned to accept that lust was part of her. She did not fear that. She smiled to herself--no, that was the easy part.

She let herself feed briefly on that. It helped fill the empty place within her. Like trying to sate thirst with salt water, she knew it wouldn't last. She would always return, craving more, hating more, and leave unsatisfied.

She tried like many times before to understand this as she headed for the ladies' room. In front of the mirror she surveyed her reflection. She felt nothing as she met eyes that might have belonged to a stranger. Large and hazel, emotions shifted in them constantly, giving nothing away. The face was long, with high cheekbones and a full mouth that seemed somewhat stern to her. She appraised the body before her. It carried no fat but was not harsh with angles. Honey-colored hair hung in a fine curtain around the face and ended just below the shoulders. She thought it would look better if it was more full. Almost mechanically she reached into a small purse for a comb. She ran it through the stranger's hair and decided it did look better. Not as beautiful as some but prettier than others was her final judgement of the reflection.

Almost imperceptibly, the eyes focused inward. She fought back tears as the nothingness returned. The hard part had come at last. This was what she hid from those outside, from herself when they were watching. Without them she barely existed. She could never see what they saw, yet they were her only mirror. She wasn't sure when it had happened, but she knew that somewhere in her life something vital had broken. That empty screaming place inside had once held all her visions. It had been the keeper of her dreams, the fuel of her hopes, the mirror of her possibilities. She hardly remembered now how to fill that well herself. Sometimes she tried, but too many disappointments had taken their toll on her confidence. Like smoke on the wind, her dreams inevitably blew away.

Not like a prostitute, who knew she earned her pay for service given, but rather like a vampire who fed on the perceptions of others, was how she survived the blindness in her soul. Constantly refueling her mind with the transitory images reflected back from those who dared meet her eyes, she absorbed their lusts, desires, hopes and dreams. Like a chameleon, she could shift her image to give them what they showed her, but her own desires remained abstract. She let these things flow through her as she danced. In those moments she was most herself, the motion of her body a reflection of her shifting thoughts and emotions, nebulous as shadows in fog.

SMT 1998


Moonlight Mile*

She stood alone on the pale blue carpet in the middle of the nearly empty room. She had some furniture, but not enough to fill the space around her. She'd left most of what she'd known behind her. All she needed she held in her arms as she stood there holding herself, hands over her shoulders. Head tilted up, eyes focussed on visions only she could see, she reached for what was left of feelings. As the first soft notes began, something within her seemed to stir.

She let her hands answer, releasing her shoulders and reaching for something that seemed far away. Her hips caught the beat of the firmer notes, when the wind blows...Swaying steps carried her soul along the path of the Moonlight Mile. She let her head lead the slow spinning of her body as the timpani beat out the march for her feet. Her heart followed as her steps quickened. With upflung hands to the rising call, she reached for him, so far away, then pulled him close in her empty arms while the night passed slow. Drum or heart, she couldn't tell as she wove a winding trail in measured paces across the room. Just another madman and she lifted her lips to him anyway, turning slow circles with arms above her head, till she flung them aside to throw back her head and kick out. Livin' to be lyin' by your side rang through her head as she ground gently down, arms mesmerising as cobras to a flute player. Want and pain forced her up, just about a moonlight mile, like every day of waiting, wondering, and doubt. Rhythmic swaying calmed her against the loneliness, helped her find hope in motion. Her body was a wave, an ocean, as incapable of rest as the tide. She let herself flow from knees to hips to head to turning, spinning reaching waters. Her breath was the wind caressing his face, just about a moonlight mile on down the road. As the wind turned to gale in the quickening drums, she skipped a series of mad thrashing steps of wrath to the pounding drums in her head. She halted abruptly to change directions, beating the fury of frustration in her steps against the floor. I'm hidin' baby, and I'm dreaming, she dreamed as she strutted, ground, kicked and spun. Emotion bit her like ice and snow as she released them all in her unseen dance.

As the music slowed, she stood alone on the pale blue carpet, arms wrapped around all she needed. She reached a hand to lift up what was left of feeling, as it rolled down her face to land glistening on her skin.

Sonja Torres 1998

*Moonlight Mile, Rolling Stones


Man of Golden Words

I want to show you something,

Like the joy inside my heart...*

The gentle chords of the piano call out, softly but firmly. She rises slowly, gracefully, in answer. She sways as the music fills her heart and flows through her long legs. Her hips rock, her head tips back, her arms reach up as the flow raises them. She turns once, scooping sound in her outstretched hand, holding it like sand and letting it flow between her fingers, never losing the rhythmic sway. Her arm draws a circle around her as she turns. She smiles and reaches out, 'I want to show you something...' and she moves away, in measured flowing paces.

'Words and music, my only tools...' she lets the piano's voice carry her in a sinewy serpentine, turning like a music box dancer, oblivious to her lover's eyes as they watch. She moves slightly faster, arms and legs, hips and head flowing 'in love with music...' Her fine hair billows around her like a golden halo as she spins once, quickly. She tosses her head as she steps around, then stands still, except for the beat moving in her knees as she brings one arm, then the other over her head. 'Divine glory...' She pulls her hands to her breast and turns, smiling into the eyes on her. 'The expression' draws her hand out to brush his cheek before the force of the piano pulls her away and she falls, 'the knees bow...' Her lips form silent words of love in shy confession.

Her face is hidden as she kneels, hypnotized by the liquid melody, her body in fluid communion with passion. Suddenly, her hungry eyes look up and she surges to her feet. She spins before her 'lord of lords', then slows to a standing serpentine, weaving her hips to the softer 'king of kings.'

She moves away again in a blended series of struts and smooth turns. In the center of the room she stops, only motion and melody to carry her like a wave in a sinewy circle as the piano tide ebbs. Content with her offering, she smiles.

-SMT 1998

* Man of Golden Words, Mother Love Bone


Melody of Her Heart

The music began, and it pleased her. She glanced at him across the room. It wasn't a very large room. Her cheeks burned when she saw him catch her glance and she looked away, knowing he was still watching. Conflicts wrestled inside her. She wanted to dance; the music was wonderful. She felt self-conscious with him watching; he was too close. She stood and closed her eyes. Her back was to him.
He watched her stand. She seemed to hesitate. He wondered why. The lights were low in the small room. It made her seem larger than life when she moved. He could touch her if she stood just a little closer. Her back was straight. Defiant? He couldn't see her eyes to be sure. The music was slow and haunting. She lifted her head. Upon her back, her hair shifted with the motion, flickering threads of gold sliding between her shoulder blades.
Her eyes were closed as she let the music fill her, and take away everything else. Her arms rose slowly, as if lifted upon the opening notes. It threaded around her and she reached for it, weaving it through her arms and legs in a tapestry of motion. She wanted to create something beautiful, something worthy of the music, and of his eyes. She spun slowly, the sinewy motion gradually turning her to face him. She met his eyes and smiled.
He watched her move with interest. The music was not his taste, but it suited her. She didn't dance so much as she flowed, like a tide that ran with the rise and fall of music instead of the moon. She held it in her hands, and embraced it with her arms. He caught her smile. It seemed to hold a deep pure joy. It was beautiful. Then it was gone as she rode a wild note away from him. His hands dropped into his lap. He hadn't realized that they'd risen, reaching for her.
She let a surge in the music carry her away from him. She rode it like wild horses, giving it her fears in trade for the liberation of her soul. With her back to him again, she accepted for a moment that she was glad he was watching. She surrendered to the music and wrapped its beauty around and within her arms, legs and hips. She flung her arms wide open to it, and felt the place where she loved him rise like dawn. She used it to let him watch. The fear was gone, replaced by the melody where she could speak without words the love, the sadness, the passion, hunger and joy, and she hoped, the beauty of his place in her heart.
He watched her flicker and flare, a flame in an ever-moving breeze. He saw her speaking in a language so old he heard it with his soul and interpreted it with his heart. He felt for a moment like an intruder stumbling upon a prayer, and yet, he knew she wanted him to hear. The words winding through her fingers were for him, and the hunger in her hips matched his own. She bared her soul entwined in music, and she was trusting him with it.
Her mind was empty of words. There was only the music and the emotions it revealed as it rose and fell within her, guiding her motions upon its currents. It was a thing of beauty, an artist painting loveliness upon the blank canvas of her body. She let it feed on her joy and turn her rage into rapture. For him she let it flow pure and naked, trusting that he would find the beauty in it. As the music drew to a close, she stood before him, arms reaching out, eyes intense. She waited.
He watched her final arc burn with graceful fury around the little room. He leaned forward in his seat while his heart hammered in his chest. He was no longer sure if she was real. When her last step ended before him, his eyes rose slowly along the lines of her body. His hands lifted and he could feel the heat radiating off her skin. Her eyes smoldered, raw and hopeful but unashamed. His hand closed around her arm. She was real. More real than he'd ever really known.
She closed her eyes and sighed, stepping into his arms. Their warmth flowed around her like music and her heart sang. He held her close against his chest and felt the melody of her heart. He realized he suddenly knew all the words to its song. He smiled into her hair.
©Sonja Torres 2004


The Power of Three

The music soared around them, sax, harmonica, guitar and drums. The blues flowed like beer down from the rafters. She felt it all the way to the tips of her toes. A pair of girls made their way to the dance floor, not for the first time tonight. The men watched them, eager but passive participants in the show, as the girls began to move together, combining blues and sensuality in a sinewy smoldering tease.

She watches them casually, appraising their moves. Not bad she thinks, but she knows that when the mood is right, she’s better. She glances at her companions. It’s girls’ night out and they’re laughing together, but they’ve noticed the two girls also. One jokes to her to go join them. “I don’t know them well enough” she replies with a laugh. “But I think we can take them…”

The music continues, calling and tugging. She wants to answer. It is one of those nights, and the mood is right. She feels it in her hips and the pit of her stomach. She looks up at her companions, about to ask, when she sees their heads together. Her two friends rise together, grinning. Her smile joins theirs as she follows them to the dance floor. It’s primal now. The earthy music calls to the oldest, most basic instincts and needs. The three women close ranks, swaying and flowing together, weaving the oldest of spells. The first two keep grinding, but the power of three is complete and compelling. The challenge was made, and answered. She revels in her body’s answer to the music, but also in the sweet kinship with her sisters. The competition is not with them, this time. The men appreciate, but can never understand. They do not have to have to, but it does matter that they are there. They don’t need to know this, but the women hint at it, playing to them as they laugh with each other, suffused with joy and the power of three.

©2007 Sonja Torres *Dedicated to L & L, you know who you are!

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Updated 4-13-08