Sometimes, a picture says it all.  No words are needed here.  Write the poem!



As you care for his needs,
Understand that this is
A feeble, powerless shadow
Of his former self.
Take a look at the photos;
Each a glimpse of a charming gentleman –
Vibrant and spontaneous,
Handsome, comical, and full of life,
Loved by the beautiful woman you see
In the photo he keeps near his heart –
The love he will dance with again
In a matter of days.

© Marie Elena Good – 3/25/12



They shuffle past, indifferent and unaware.
There along the way these souls, bent and gray –
minds off to distant places; a familiarity
of wrinkled faces setting to stir in memory
as they walk alone. He and she, steps calculated
in a choreography of their advanced years,
and still muffled ears hear the muted music
of a bygone day. Benny Goodman plays in the shadows
and they join again in a youthful and joyous dance.

© Walt Wojtanik – 3/25/12

211 thoughts on “IN THE SHADOWS – PROMPT #48

  1. How lovely both of these poems are, tugging mightily on the heartstrings so poignantly – you’re right the picture says it all – almost, your words, both of you – lend a depth of feeling even imagination cannot quite conjure … thank you so much.

      • Marie and Walt,
        You have chosen an intriguing picture for this prompt, and you have both dazzled us once again with your talent. I applaud both you Marie, and you Walt, for exceptional poems.
        These are my handclaps. lol

    (a shadorma)

    we’ve moved one
    step at a time in
    dancing only in shadows
    of our memories

    P. Wanken

  3. Pingback: Reflecting (a shadorma) « echoes from the silence

  4. Wow, that fits perfectly with a poem I just finished up this past week. I’ll be back later with a new one 🙂


    A little shadow of yesterday
    Is all I have of you,
    A lingering thought
    Dancing in the light of memory
    That cannot be eclipsed by my present.

  5. Thank you for your kind words, Sharon. You all are always so kind!

    Mary and Paula: Such perfect poems! Thanks for getting us started so beautifully!

    Marie Elena

  6. Shadow Dance

    What if?
    the shadows
    of our thoughts
    were depicted on a screen
    behind us as we walked along?
    I have a feeling
    we’d stay in our homes
    and not come out.
    But God sees the shadows.
    He knows and still loves.
    Lord, may my shadow dance
    be pleasing to You.
    And, sorry, when it isn’t.

  7. What a lovely, sad picture this is. You’ve all done a wonderful job of capturing the feel of it.

    We danced in our youth –
    Dipped and spun as our hearts sang
    And the music soared.

    Life interrupted –
    Bills and work pulled us away,
    Replaced fun with toil.

    Now again we dance –
    Our hearts twirl and leap and prance
    As our bodies die.

  8. Morning, y’all

    Sweet Shadow

    once upon a time,
    when they were part of the night
    her light was his voice,
    was black-brown-gold,
    was sweet-sulfur-bitter, molasses

    and her name,
    poured thick and smooth from his
    wide mouth, rumbled
    marble-rounded syllables,
    was honey and delicious

    she would want
    to eat the sound of her name
    of her self
    lick consonants from the wall,
    spoon pools of vowels
    collecting on the tiles.

  9. Hi, poetic friends. It’s a wonderful picture prompt, Marie and Walt. And, although it seems to say it all, I read many wonderful takes on it, willing to share something more 🙂
    Here is mine:
    Shadowy reflections of once-crazy dancers –
    That’s what we are
    As we pass by each other
    Neither seeing, nor remembering
    Our true selves reflected in the window –
    More true than
    The hollow shapes
    Dissocializing and

  10. Saltarello shadows
    breach sharpened daylight
    shimmying along
    delineated by squandered theatrics
    shortchanged dreams
    freed from flesh prisons
    movement forged by cane-less memory
    invigorated by lust’s commemorations
    a semblance of youth replayed
    on screen of wide clapboards
    as euphonious echoes linger
    a last curtain call
    in intercepted sunshine

    ~ Randy Bell ~

  11. For Catherine

    She wishes she had enough power
    to send healing energy
    to the whole world
    and make everyone
    healthy and happy.

    But she can’t even manage it
    for herself.

    She sees the sunlight
    trying from the infinity
    of space and time
    trying to reach her flowers
    as her sheltering eaves
    block the bulbs
    in darkness.

    How the sun must cry
    with her in frustration
    as it lowers their heads
    but only manage
    to make the shadows longer
    and they finally give in
    to the darkness of the night.

    Yet the morning sneaks in
    with a whispered smile
    and a sliver of white teeth
    between lush lips
    and kisses her flowers
    until the eaves envy
    grabs them back again
    and again
    and again.

    Then she bends
    to inhale the fragrant
    remains of their struggle
    and carry a single blossom
    inside to remind her
    of the potential that grows
    in those tiny moments
    when she allows herself
    to push back her shadows
    and step into her light.

  12. You’ve both captured the essence of this picture so well. I volunteer for Hospice, so I can really relate to the feelings of being trapped in a body that no longer feels like one’s own. Very poignant poems, both.

    • Lolamouse, that is a wonderful and unselfish work you do. Not everyone is cut out to handle being a Hospice volunteer, but I thank God for people like you. Bless your heart!

      Marie Elena

  13. Shadow Dance

    On that day,
    so very long ago,
    when I thought to pass
    you on the street,
    your dancing shadow
    grabbed me and
    has yet to let go.
    Even now,
    whenever we part,
    I feel that tug as
    our spirits cling,
    one to the other,
    vowed to dance
    until life fades into
    the shadows.

  14. Pingback: Shadow Dance | Awakened Words

  15. LOVE this visual, and all of the poems so far. Beautiful.
    Here’s mine:

    Step by Step

    Before this cane
    our hearts, untamed would
    twirl and sway the night away.

    Before these wrinkles
    our eyes would crinkle at the sight
    of each other gracing mid-floor, once more.

    Before they creaked
    these old bones wreaked delightful
    havoc in speakeasy, lounge, for miles around.

    Before it’s through
    I’m asking you, just one more time, perchance
    on this side of heaven’s ballroom: shall we dance?


    In Your eyes
    my spirit is seen
    pure, good intentioned.
    In Your eyes
    my failing flesh
    is fresh, perfection.
    In Your eyes
    as years dwindle on
    love kindles, ignites.
    You see through
    thin, writhing skin
    old, baggy attitudes.
    You see deeply
    longings of my human heart
    fully, the depths
    of my struggling dreams.
    You sense my very soul
    dancing, spinning in anticipation
    a life just beginning
    made fresh and whole
    not a mere shadow.
    A bright and shining light
    connecting with her source,
    and You see this in us all
    our full potentials,
    points and purposes.
    And You love us into existence daily,
    filling and preparing us for Your plans.

    ©H.G. 3/25/12 @P.B.

  17. Pingback: ~TRANSPARENCY~ « Metaphors and Smiles

  18. Anger weary hearts
    fall cold,
    While bodies wrinkle
    But still a glimmer,
    still a glance
    Slim shadow of
    Love’s last dance.

  19. Dance Me to the End, My Love

    Through the gathering dusk I see you coming
    Up my street again walking so quickly, whistling
    Finally I can’t bear it, I’m out the door and running
    The breeze off Lake Ontario fresh in my hair
    My mother’s voice lost behind me, “…let him come to you…”

    Your hair, burnished copper, catches the last rays of sunlight
    And you are grinning so wide, deep holes indent your cheeks
    —the biggest dimples, I’ve ever seen—
    Your navy U of T Engineering jacket slung over your shoulder
    Such broad shoulders, I fell hard for those shoulders …
    I have to shake myself, it’s so hard to believe you are mine

    We end up the same every time, so entwined
    It’s a wonder we can walk at all –
    Somehow we always end up at the bluffs—
    Just at the foot of my street— there, hidden
    Amongst the trees, dancing to our private music
    Until the moon rises over the lake
    And we’re forced to stumble back to my place

    Do you dream what I dream sweet man?
    That we are dancing still most nights?
    Of course, you do, because it seems, we are
    One of us slips ‘”Remember When” on the player
    And you hold out your arms to waltz …
    Two shadows of our younger selves?
    Perhaps – but we seem to glory in the now
    Of it – hopefully you’ll dance me
    To the end of time …


  20. Well, I’m back with a brand new offering. Turns out that picture had quite the story to tell me 🙂

    Joy and the Magic Man

    Over the years, Joy’s name
    Seemed to fit her less and less,
    Her spirit eroded by
    A river of responsibilities,
    Once supple skin scarred
    By the acid touch of time,
    Myopia pushing aside
    The artistic visions of her youth.
    She almost did not recognize him,
    Black hair lightened into gray,
    His slower steps assisted
    By a cane that mirrored her own,
    Nothing to gauge that he even saw her,
    Much less remembered
    The time when she was “his Joy,”
    Back before she had developed
    Any acumen at the craft of love.

    He had been her Magic Man,
    An alchemist whose tender touch
    Turned her tears to drops of gold.
    He sprinkled her life with wonder,
    A belief that life was larger
    Than she ever dreamed possible.
    He taught her how to embrace freedom
    In a sensuous dance of hearts
    Uninterrupted by the outside world,
    Two artists in love feeding
    On the creative juices of the other,
    Stoking a fire that overtook them,
    Consuming and eventually leaving
    Only smoldering embers discarded
    In search of the next inspiration.

    She set aside her brush
    And oil paints long ago,
    Arthritic hands and withered dreams
    Unable to give shape to her visions,
    But as she sweeps past him
    On that cold January sidewalk
    In her sensible shoes and sturdy coat,
    Shadows of Joy and the Magic Man
    Float in the fog of yesterday.

  21. Shadow Play (a Novo Otto)

    The elderly gentleman hunched
    over in the chill night air, bunched
    his overcoat into a fold
    as his shadow danced on the wall
    with that of a girl, graceful, tall.
    The elderly woman, bent, cold,
    walked with coat collar covering ears
    that rang with songs of younger years
    when neither thought they would grow old.

  22. What a touching and lovely picture and so many wonderful ones already posted here, friends.

    What Once Was Still Is

    It takes a special eye
    to see a dancing heart
    in a battered body.

    To look at us now,
    hardly acknowledging
    one another as we pass,

    shuffling along on
    three legs, shadows of
    our former selves,

    you’d never guess that
    peeling away the work
    of years—hard-won wrinkles,

    white thinning hair,
    hunched bodies slowly
    bending back toward earth—

    far beneath the pain
    and cares that weigh us down
    is who we really are,

    our youth dancing across
    our minds, their dark feet
    connecting us to a dim memory

    of us: light as laughter, glad,
    sexy, and young again, beautiful
    and about fifty pounds lighter.

  23. Shadorma to Shadows

    The shadows
    of ballerina
    me and Fred
    Astaire you
    live in us no matter how
    slow our dance steps now.


  25. The Sum of it All

    Somehow we knew
    even as we held each other
    and danced that final dance
    it was good-bye
    Even as life insisted on broadening
    the past
    and even as hope persisted
    in holding its memory fast
    We knew
    the sum of it all
    and the best we can recall
    are two
    dancing on a wall


  26. I wrote this sonnet a few years ago but it seems to fit this photo nicely.

    “A lover’s dance never fades”

    Against my chest pulses a chord of not
    one, not two, but three ragtime beats of love
    for you, at tune, a rhythm you forgot.
    Hear the harmonies? They race high above
    your Brahms’ contentment of sweet baby rhyme
    and hush sway. I say ONE and TWO but you
    raise your bow to the strings of chant and chime;
    I glove my hands in hopes of jazzy blue
    soft shoe, slippery beats, and snazzy dance.
    Come with lipstick and rum, my ragged beloved!
    Old fool that I am for your dear romance;
    Let’s get saucy tonight. Take a chance, love.

    Dance with me like young lovers do in sweet
    embrace, bodies twined in a lover’s beat.


    A smile,
    a warm and tender voice,
    clear blue eyes,
    you could have fooled me.
    Only I smile and say

    Some day
    someone sees me in
    His eyes.

  28. Shadows on a Wall

    It isn’t so much
    the ‘not dancing’
    that hurts,
    but the parting of ways

    it isn’t the silence
    that drives me mad
    It’s the echo
    of lost yesterdays

    • Janet, so many memories are just thin, faint shadows….or dark, harsh forms so unlike the reality we once knew. All are, as you said, echos of “lost yesterdays.” This was great.

  29. Spectres

    They’re older now,
    really old,
    no one to lean on,
    sticks will have to do.
    What might have been,
    what they could have seen,
    what they should have known.
    All gone now,
    wasted opportunities,
    missed moments.
    They might have dared,
    they could have cared,
    they should have known,
    all gone now.
    Friendship forsaken,
    lost love lingering,
    the scent of never was.
    If only, if only,
    but neither took that step,
    each waiting for the other,
    so alone they kept.
    They’re older now,
    really old,
    so old they no longer see
    who they used to be,
    not even shadows come before,
    simply ghosts who never were.

  30. Silent Little Song

    It was purely mamihlapinatapai.
    I danced a dance with you and you with I.
    So graceful all the steps and movements seemed.
    Alas, it was there only in our dreams.

    Yes, we had both grown older,
    but neither one was bolder
    than that silent little song,
    and so we walked along.

    By Michael Grove

  31. Dream Dancing

    Aged prescriptions, tablets,
    salves and creams but

    forever we are dancing
    in our dreams.

    Step, step, slide. Riding
    on moonbeams all

    through the night. Sleep tight,
    goodnight, old love.

    Sleep kisses our dreams,
    that awaken our youth.

    We two.
    We both.

    We are waltzing
    back into our youth.

  32. Dancing Hearts

    Walking with a cane, gritting my teeth each step I take
    My heart is still dancing
    You are stooped and taut muscles now sag
    Still your heart dances
    Once we danced til daunt and went to full day’s work
    Now only our heart dances
    It requires sheer stamina to walk this city block
    Our hearts are still dancing
    Soon our children will put roses on our graves
    Our hearts will dance on still

    • Iris,
      you nailed the “stamina” here, with the gritting teeth, sagging muscles, contrasting with the dance inside the two….lovely. Glad you didn’t delete.

  33. By the way, I had only had time to look at the picture prompt on Sunday and just now got back to post my poem before I HAD EVEN READ WALT AND MARIE’S POEMS. Isn’t it amazing how so many of us talked about hearts dancing?
    There are some very beautiful poems on here, I almost wanted to delete mine after reading some of yours. What talent. I hope I have time to comment on each one. Wonderful Week fellow poets.

  34. Shadows and Light

    There is magic in the shadows,
    as they dance towards each other,
    no stiff muscles, no canes needed,
    unless it’s part of the dance.

    There is magic in the light too,
    casting shadows towards each other.
    What’s important is not the physics,
    but the frisson of the dance.



    Yes, I hear your steps
    they are all over me
    every day
    and every
    we are here only
    we moved!

    We moved from Russia to Sweden,
    from Sweden to Denmark
    and we moved from Russia to Poland,
    some of us.
    We moved and moved.
    We moved to America, to Australia.
    We moved.
    We moved from Babylon, yes,
    we moved,
    we couldn’t stop the day
    some one put up his finger down in
    we go north!

    No one
    kind of said hold on
    we just stopped here
    and we
    built houses
    we raised kids
    we died.

    And here I am with
    all of you
    shadows and all
    of course we’ll
    head on
    some day.

    We’ll take the sky.

  36. @Hannah, I wrote this for you. It’s not finished. It’s how it looks today but still it shows that we are on our way. We’re moving and we can’t kind of help it. Only every shadow – whatever it is your own shadow displaying your exact moving or it’s an image of something else (like the prompt) – well, all together it says: You were here!
    Hannah, thanks.

  37. Shadow Dance

    …and underneath our agéd skin
    our hearts drum rhythms deep within;
    with arms spread wide as if to fly…
    the music in us spans the sky.

    Just passing by us on the street
    won’t show you how we hear the beat.
    The kick-ball-change? It’s time-step. Why?
    The music in us spans the sky.

    Eight decades spell a vibrant dance
    that you might see, if by some chance
    you look past shadows. Close one eye…
    the music in us spans the sky.

    …and underneath our agéd skin
    the music in us spans the sky.


    Thanks for the lovely inspiration. It would seem that a grand jeté yearns to leap out above all of us. The form, by the way, is Kyrielle Sonnet.

  38. Pingback: Eternal Dance «        Say Aye to The Heart

  39. Marie, Walt…loved the prompt, and your answers to it. Also everyone’s interpretations and inspirations. Here’s mine…tended to focus on the woman’s side of the prompt, and not her response, but…

    Her Dancing Shadow’s Dare

    Yes, I’m just her
    thin and long, alone,
    cast up on the
    wall of years ago long gone.

    Why does she not
    know me?
    Can she just not see?
    I am hope, who’s
    in the light of what could be.

    Why does she not
    Music lives in light,
    playing dancing
    for her days, for her delight.

    If she just would
    pause, and turn, and see,
    then there’d be a
    chance her
    wrinkled form might dance like me.

    Her gray eyes would
    Tarnished silver shines,
    rubbed with love
    polished by a dance song’s lines.

    But I know the
    not that she can’t see.
    It’s that she
    for love
    won’t risk a fragile history.

    Days gone she must
    till her dying day.
    She fears that
    a dance
    would whirl her memories away.

  40. “You Can’t Judge a Book By the Cover”

    At first glance,
    you see an old person.
    Another look,
    and you begin to take in details,
    the quality and condition of their clothes,
    their physical appearance,
    the way they walk.
    Eventually, in the matter of seconds,
    you form an opinion
    and keep on walking
    forgetting the old person
    in less time than it took to form an opinion.

    While the old person
    you just passed
    is thinking what a handsome/pretty thing you are
    and is reliving the summer of ‘45
    when there was dancing in the streets
    and of the dance he/she had
    with a handsome/pretty little thing –

    You glance back
    and see the lingering smile
    on the old person’s face.
    And you wonder what stories they could tell,
    who they were
    and who they are now?
    And that old saying pops into your head,
    “You can’t judge a book by the cover”

    You stop and make eye contact,
    give a smile and continue on your way.
    Never knowing the little ray of sunshine
    you gave to an aging person
    needing to be seen.

    • thanks, as always, for your loving kindness and charming Chev-ness…feel free to copy and paste that little call to action of mine…it has been published, but I sedn it out wherever I can as well…I just love hearing “Natalie Calls” stories from the universe

  41. Paper Chain People

    We are paper chain people
    Folded back and forth
    To mimick movement
    As if we didn’t live
    In one dimension

    Our bodies bear the mark
    Of worn down corners
    Translucent with age
    Like paper thin faces
    That never look back

  42. Walk Away (While Your Heart Can Still Hold On)

    You’ve grown old in love with her,
    days apart; years together –
    all fade into distant memories.
    You want to save those thoughts
    to sustain you when your mind
    forgets her heart. But you start
    to drift into the shadows of
    forgotten dreams. Staying
    is the wiser choice but her voice
    echoes in the distance. You hold her
    as long as you can and stay
    until you have to walk away.

  43. Life Stage

    We moved across the stage,
    two shadows in perfect symmetry.

    Life, we found, was not a
    choreographed performance.
    Improvisation was needed and rarely
    was there applause.

    On the stage our toes were bruised,
    now it is our hearts.
    When did we forget the rhythm
    of our love?

    Can we find our way back
    through the shadows?

  44. Pingback: ∞•¤•∞ shadow dancing ∞•¤•∞ | my heart's love songs

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