The centipedes sweep from the rock
With a motion in sync and intrinsic;
The click and the whir are instinctive
By the light and the tick of the clock.
The music goes round and round;
Undulations are sesquipedalian
Centripetal riffles on sound:
Articulate, fanciful, alien.
Beyond the dreams of Cinderella
At the ball of the classical Scolopendrella
Each soloist equals a corps de ballet —
Pas de duodecimal, vertigo digital,
A roomful of couples in one individual
Dances unstoppable Arthropoda bourrée.
NOTES for Students of English
Sesquipedalian – (Pronounced ses-kwi-pe-DALE-ee-an) Having many syllables, long; from the Latin sesquipedalis a foot and a half in length.
Centripetal – (Pronounced sen-TRIP-e-tal) Force directed inward toward the center of rotation.
Riffle – A succession of small waves, like ripple.
Scolopendrella – (Pronounced ska-la-pen-DREL-a) A genus of centipede-like animals; the name, given in the 19th century, is the diminutive form of scolopendra, the centipede.
Pas de duodecimal – (Pronounced du-o-DES-i-mal) A play on pas de deux, a dance for two performers, from the French step for two ; here, a dance for twelve, from the Latin duodecim 12. Scolopendrella adults reportedly have 12 pairs of legs.
Vertigo digital – Here the adjective “digital” refers to fingers and toes, not to computers.
Arthropoda – (Pronounced ar-THRA-pa-da) A group of animals without backbones that includes centipedes, spiders, crabs, and insects.
Bourrée – (Pronounced bu-RAY) 1) A 17th century French dance; 2) a walking or running ballet step.