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The Ballerina

If only the dance hadn’t lost its grip on my shoulders.
Had I let myself fall into the spotlight
had I let my hips press against nylon,
I might not have fallen upon the concrete
and skinned my knees.

Might my scars have appeared like
runs in tights on thighs making lines
from my hips to Boston,
rather than tally marks of the worst nights?

If only my toes had not been stomped
in failed attempts at out of tune waltzes.
I could have wrapped my ankles in pink ribbon
and stood, fingers pointing straight
to Minnesota. And my feet
would have no reason to support me,
for my bones would not be shattered.

Might I not be popped out of place,
stumbling down hills and falling
without the dizzy lightness?

If only I were a dancer.
I would have no need to choke on my tongue
each time you made your way into prayers.
Upon my waist would be bound,
my letters to you, and I
would be a composition set to music.

But I’ve hit the ground one too many times.
I bled.



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