When you are a dancer
You learn the beginning
Feet pointed as far to the sides
As your rotating hips will allow.
And when you are smallAnd at that beginning,
Your body is as flexible
As your mind.
There you stand,Potbellied,
They do not say to you thenThat, when you are sixteen,
Doubt may cramp your muscled calves,
Arch your arrow back,
Leap into your mind.
They do not say to you
When you start in first positionThat you may never be
That you may never beEnough.
On the third of July,I stand with a hundred other girls,
From stick-thin to gently rounded,
From tiny, taut packages of muscle
To gawky, long-limbed sylphs,
All wearing pink tights,Black leotards.
Against our scalps,
Up and away.
Not a single stray strand to distract
From the tilt of our heads
Or the length of our necks.
I notice a few girls daredGarnish their chignons
With beads, flowers.
Would it help them grab the attention
Of Dame Veronique de la Chance?
Of choreographer Yevgeny Yelnikov?
Of one of the other important teachersWho have come to scout talent
Here in Boston today?
Or even catch the spectacled eye
Of the secretary in heavy, blue skirt,
Taking notes on a battered clipboard
Where our names
To the numbers we wear pinned
Onto front and back?
I was given number 78.
Should I have worn flowers in my hair?
c 2011 Stasia Ward Kehoe
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