Paddy Coyne’s

          Old women step dancing
          at Paddy Coyne's pub
          glow back into their youth.

I just love this line. To me, it emulates the energy that’s present in all of these poems, the willingness that we all have to be nostalgic rather than realistic, even if looking towards and romanticizing the past, present, or future is foolish to the extreme when compared with being rational. Isn’t the magic of storytelling something that can be traced back to looking eagerly up at the storyteller (be it a Disney movie or our Mom) and wanting very little more than to believe every part of what we’ve been told. – Jim Hinkson, age 21

          Somewhere along the stem
          of their lives

I love how the metaphor of these women's' lives as flowers or plants helps to preserve their youth and beauty in the reader's mind. It gives the reader an insight into their souls, which is where that youth and beauty have always lived and bloomed like a flower. – Patricia Schlutt, age 18

          their men stopped watching
          the twirling skirts,
          the high kick in time
          to tin whistle and drum,
          and instead gaze deeply
          into the frothy glass.

Something in these men seems to have died, and that contrasts with the longing of the women to retain a sense of adventure and life. – Patricia Schlutt, age 18
With this loss comes a shift in focus, as the men drown themselves in drink despite the energy and spirit of their aging spouses.Despite the sad tune this poem plays, the ending allows for a redemptive turn. – Lauren Carlson, age 23
This progression of time and human nature is described so wonderfully. It has such depth without being overpowering. – Sarah Branz, age 21

          The women's hands join together,

The women are dancing for themselves. Their audience has withdrawn, and they don’t dance because they need to, because they’re supposed to, because they’re trying to catch the eye of men. They dance because they want to, because within the dance they not only re-find a more vibrant version of themselves as individuals, but they create for one another a community in which each vibrant individual can live, breathe, and exist exuberantly. – Heather Bulliss, age 21

          their bodies weave
          the remarkable space
          they have created.
          Their eyes shine into one another's

The bond the author describes is such a beautiful one. This poem skillfully manages to note how relationships change, but how some--such as the bond between the dancing women--give us the stability to keep going. – Sarah Branz, age 21

          as they begin to spin,
          hair flying, feet drumming,
          the room a dazzle

Shine” and “dazzle” reiterate the image produced by “glow.” There is light seeping from these women. – Heather Bulliss, age 21

          of long living women
          embracing and holding on.

(published in Passages North, 1993)

This is a beautiful poem with a beautiful message, that youth is not just something that fades away but can be recaptured with music and community. Pederson's poems often seem to deal with women, their strength and the conflicts which they face. Women have traditionally been evaluated based upon their looks, with youth and health determining their worth as wives and mothers, but in this case it is the men who age ungracefully and end up losing all interest in the things they used to love. In contrast, the women retain their youthful energy and enthusiasm which is brought to life by the music and dancing, transforming them into the magnificent people they once were. This poem inspires by showing that when one grow one does not have to lose all youthful qualities. – Laura Crouch, age 20
However old, or tired, or lonely, these women continue on in sisterhood, unafraid of personal expression, outliving the drunken men who, having long since ignored and forgotten them, failed to squelch their indefatigable spirits. – Lauren Carlson, age 23
I love the ending to this poem, I find it so beautiful that the women are embracing and living life while those that once came to see them dance to feel alive, have faded away. – Rachel McGuinness, age 20
I like how this poem follows the women from their youth to their old age. It seems kind of sad at first. As if their youth and beauty are gone. Their men no longer watch them. However, the women themselves still see their beauty and their joy. It is kind of like a secret among them, and that makes it even more precious. – Daisy Hall, age 14
Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.