Full Flood

Max filed the fragment with care, and as the moon rose over the marsh, he slipped one or two accessories into his pockets and headed for the creek. First out was a tiny but powerful flashlight that showed him the way; he was mindful of the canebrake rattlesnake coiled incognito in the grass. He crossed the lawn, tensely navigated a short shadowed path through bog myrtles and pines, and settled into a weathered garden bench under an oak at the edge of the marsh. He turned off the light. Next out were an iPod and a JamBox. A few clicks later, D’Arienzo’s staccato bandoneon and wistful violin set the stage for a survey of the stars, the playful juxtaposition of Venus and Mars, trajectories of flashing five-mile-high jets, and moonlight animating the marsh. The music reclaimed his attention, and he turned onto the walkway that led to the dock.

The tide was in full flood as he strode across a vast lake that precisely reflected the distant forest and the skies above. D’Arienzo’s song prompted weightless steps first to the right and then to the left, interspersed with crisp cruzadas, all carefully aligned with the edge of the walkway. He came at last to the dock and practiced step sequences from class, assimilating them gradually as reflexes. The music alone elicited the steps, and for moments on end, his heart and mind were at ease. But he knew that tango is capricious when danced with another. Like him she is impelled by something more than a beautifully interpretive set of perfect steps.

That something remained elusive. After a while, watching Mars and Venus set in the northwest, and feeling the late-night chill creeping in, Max considered again tango’s insistent hold over him. He recalled Ignatio Quiroga’s remarks one evening on tango, while mixing yet another Manhattan for a lady whose capacity for cocktails was surpassed only by her elegance on the dance-floor.
“In Tango, as in chess, opposites with strictly-defined moves meet on a limited field. The encounter offers boundless possibilities. Strengths and weaknesses are carefully probed and acted upon. But in contrast to chess, in the end, for something like a second, Tango melds the opposites and sets them free.”

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