Sonnet for Zia

Ballroom partner to a broom swept over

Kitchen scraps, you spun to Dorsey, scuffing

Up the floor, and waving withered hands,

And flashing past a husband puffing


Cigarettes and knocking back one shot, then

Two. He, Irish Bill, who looked in youth like

Tyrone Power, a black-and-white matinee idol

Of teenage dreams, and you, on hunger strike


For the Blessed Virgin, skinny brown-eyed

Annie, your dark curls tight from tetanus, your

Mind holding fast to an eighth-grade degree.

He could not dance, this dance hall drunk, who spun


Half-truths round the waxed wood floors, but watched knees

Bent in dance and prayer and promised to be yours.

—Erin O’Luanaigh

About the Author

Erin O’Luanaigh is a former Commonweal intern.

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