I burnt my pointe shoes tonight.
The girl beside me in ballet class mocks me with her body,
her thin fingers delicate like the Russian primas we see in videos.
Thighs like flower stems,
collarbones casting shadows on her chest.
I hate looking at her.
The mirror is a bully, pointing out every curve
and roll of skin that I wish I could
cut right off.
My arms are too long, and when I dance,
I am a blundering ape,
trying to fit in with lemurs,
leaping with grace that I don’t possess.
At first, my shoes held me high and helped me fly,
like a flag in the strongest breeze.
But in the end, they bent my bones
and pinched the nerves in my toes.
Today they failed beneath my weight,
pulling my kneecap apart in the middle of the floor,
and I couldn’t even walk out of the studio.
Who was I
to think I could be like the other girls?
To think that I could fly?
When I burned them, I made sure they melted completely
until they were only a mixture of hot glue and pale ash.
As the coals cooled, the spot in my heart that dance held