To Be Hers

Not the sweet smelling,
scuff-less pointe shoes hanging
on the wall, waiting to be bought.
Nor the beautiful oranges,
reds, pinks gracing the feet of a
tall brunette on the opening night
of Firebird or Copelia or Don Juan.
 
I’d rather be the ones she wears
daily, to all her practices-the ones
with ripped fabric, and spotted
material; with loose nails and bent
cardboard. I’d rather be the ones
she rubs tenderly as she unties
the ribbons that circle her small
ankles, the ones that smell of glue
and salty sweat.
 
To have been the one she’s worn
incessantly, slept in, had tightened
by Edward, the owner of the
dance store. It’s a privilege, a
dream of every pair of Capezios
and Blochs. I’ve seen her cramped
toes and I’ve formed to her foot
as if I were painted on. I’ve helped
her feel the floor and given her the
chance to dance passionately,
desperately.
 
I’ve given her a freedom from the shoes
that aren’t broken in, from the “too tight,
needs to be fixed” elastic. I’d rather be
the ones she strokes and bends to fit better
the next time. I’d rather be the ones
that know there is a next time.
 
By smelling like her, being dirty,
and holey, and forever in her dance
bag or in her hands, I am her. I’d rather
be that than the crisp shoes in a new box,
not yet bent, not yet worn, not yet alive.

Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.