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Ballet Shoes

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When I was six I learned that I was different.
I lay sprawled across the musty basement floor,
Organizing the stamps along the faded ink pad.
My mom calls me up,
Saying she has the new ballet shoes,
The ones for class.
One pair is the standard pink, mundane.
The other pair is brighter, pinker, has a flower.
I have grandpa rip off the tag,
And in my mind they fit snugly.
But my mom just sighs and rips them off,
Saying they’re too tight –
But it’s okay, she has a friend who could use these shoes –
And that’s when I learn that there was no friend.
That I had just wasted $30.

When I was six I learned that I was different.
The nights spent in a dusty little corner,
Doing addition on a crumpled sheet of notebook paper.
Coloring the computer paper
With broken, monochrome crayons.
I go to school on Halloween –
It’s close enough to my birthday –
And stand among princesses and super heroes
Shining in their plastic glory.
I offer them polish cookies, which they refuse,
But they gladly eat the candy at the table.
I sit at the dark corner.
I listen to them chat
About vacations, about Trick-or-Treating, about the parties.
I pick at the spider my mom tiredly sewed on my black shirt.

When I was six I learned that I was different.
The teacher comes up,
Interviews me for student of the month.
“What do you do for fun?”
“Read.”
“What’s your favorite food?”
“Macaroni with salt and butter.”
“What’s your favorite memory of kindergarten?”
And I have no answer.
So she writes down instead:
Making so many friends in class.





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