Ballerinas

Some of them shift
distractedly,
up and down,
on the balls of their feet.
Another pulls her thigh in tight,
to her chest,
clasps it there.
This one clips brutally
at the wayward lace violets on her sash.
In the wings they wait,
wound taut around the spine,
like jittering toy ballerinas,
about to explode in the round dance
of the searing stage.
A gorgeous, autumnal light
for effortless nymphs,
conceals bodies,
emaciated
by a torrid quest,
to become immortal flowers.
No common garden rose,
true flowers must be disciplined,
de-thorned, cut,
spliced into a shape,
that unforgiving audiences
can admire.
And these parched ballerinas
know
that their art burns the body
to a husk,
and beauty demands carcasses.
So, they sink hours
into perfecting flight,
or drilling holes
in frayed slippers
with boney, skinless
toes.
Some nights, de-nailed,
blackened feet,
are forced to carry collapsed shins
over the splintered floor
of a windowless hall.
And all this effort, this agony,
this solitude,
to be as free, as graceful as a
faun at play
on no one’s stage.

Copyright Ricky Barrow 2013

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