The Dancer

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Her entire body aches,
Each muscle screaming out for relief,
Only to be pulled harder, stretched longer.
The bodice, a python around her ribs,
Makes her gasp for air
That never fills her lungs completely
The very fibers of the cotton
Weave themselves into her flesh,
Continuously constricting
As sweat soaks through them.
Layers of limp tulle
Cling around her thighs,
Swishing painfully with her every movement.
The tights, so aptly named,
Encase her legs like melting wax on a wick,
Growing warmer with each liquid bead of sweat.
Both numb and bursting with needle-like pain,
Her feet burn, blister, and tear
Within the satin and burlap boxes
That form a furnace around her toes.
Bullets shoot up her toes, arches, ankles
Each time she agonizingly places her weight
Unto the miniscule area of the tip of her toe shoe.
Hour after torturous hour,
The shouted reprimands from the mistress,
Thumping of blood in her head,
Rasp of air in her lungs,
Mix in agonizing symphony.
Too much, too much!
Seizing the first brief opportunity
Between cruel combinations,
She collapses onto a bench,
Tears leaking into her eyes.
Under the guise of adjusting her slipper,
She hangs her head,
And lets the tears come
For a fleeting moment,
Before rising to dance again.





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