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Opening Scene

     Ariana Yeatts-Lonske


In 1986, the director Emile Ardolino used extras from the surrounding town of Blacksburg, VA for the movie Dirty Dancing, released in 1987.


And the rain on the roof of the theater is a clattering of coins. And the camera, a miraculous dilated eye. And the light breathless on the grass, her distant face, on the ball, hands, her hair. And my father in the third row, thinking Swayze, thinking baby, thinking corner and Catskills. And the breath on his lips the same because he does not know. And his thin twisting hands the same because he does not know. And my mother, unknowing, a screen and four years away—pale without the rush and sweet of him, thin without the flush and swell of me. And my father, drowsy, listening, walking into the street, feels rain like a promise on his skin, feels night like a child’s hand reaching out.

Ariana Yeatts-Lonske is a disabled poet, meditator, and educator. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Vanderbilt University, and her writing has won an Academy of American Poets prize and a fellowship to the Bucknell Seminar for Undergraduate Poets. She was recently a finalist for the 2022 Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize in december magazine. Ariana moderates a support group for mast cell disease patients and lives in St. Louis with her partner.

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