Les Chaussures Rouges

Her satin shoe, a foetus
she beats and slams and smashes
crushing with her own hands,
beating against the wall and hammering
until it is cracks with the same sound
as each of her hips
born as her second skin.
She strikes a match,            
holding it to the new-born’s straying hairs
watching the flames lick and whip ravenously
until the frays have sealed. Choking her ankle
with the disciplined ribbons she fastens them,
over the right, under the left:
pas de bourrée devant
a supportive noose for the ankle’s decay.

She scrapes back each golden thread
to inject her scalp with pins
by one
by one
carving red stars
into the skin marbled black and blue
until every strand is shackled in place.
A thorn wedged beneath each toe,
every step a wasp sting,
rings of rouge engrave the toes, blending upwards
into the black and blue rainbow adorning the skin.
The nail flakes off like pastry
she’s never tasted
as she soars weightlessly
ravishing the torture
of its satin confinement. 

Shoulder blades thinly sliced
like the wings of a dying bird
that shriek and
when she manipulates the body
to fit beauty’s outline
inch by inch she shifts
clenching and cramping as
gravity wars art
until she is free
rising to form
une arabesque parfaite.

One thought on “Les Chaussures Rouges

  1. This a beautiful poem that shows both the elegance and brutal toll on the body of ballet; pain wrapped in gracefulness and style.


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