Laughter ferried him into a side street, toward the Eternal Ones of the Dance. Ah! They wore different faces, yet he had met these dancers before on the mud banks of the Euphrates, in the festival plazas of Nineveh, around the ritual fires of Dionysus at Thebes, in the alleys of Rome, on a side street in the Alhambra, in heat waves of seven thousand summers.
A young princess of the Gypsies and her consorts danced a rumba to a bongo drum. The old jazz baron, king of song, sat on the stone steps, clapping his hands and stamping his feet. The blare of a trumpet in a third-story window called down to earth the spirits of small paradise, haunt of dead lovers and lost children. And the hot air curled with honeysuckle and reefer smoke.
They recognized him, too, when he sashayed into their dance. His caftan jumped with his happy steps as he moved to the drum. Dancing, he shared his magic with the Eternal Ones and their latest guises. Frenzied, reckless with something crazed, something darker, waking in them, they hungered for the light and moved lighter on their feet. His presence lifted them with hollow bones, spry as spirits, into splendor and the holy madness of the dance.