“Ballet Class” By Buffy Shutt

Her period has stopped.

Sometimes red drips appear in the crotch of
Her pink tights.
If he sees her stomach with
That soft-hard bubble of hormones
He works to burst it, to
Make her flat, bony, alert,
A free-beauty.

The smell of him,
Near him, beside him
Touching her so close she cannot exhale.
He corrects her. She torments him with
Weight gains, a tiny ring in her nose,
No bra, no panties, no line.
She refuses to spread her legs
In second position grand plié.

Others are better, but she jumps high, turns like a pinwheel.
He watches her in the mirror.
Strokes his two Russian wolfhounds dozing at his feet,
Turns to tear her down, tears her down, tears her.
Her tears jump up and flatten as fast.
She longs for the skinny doe-arms of the dancers
On the shore to glide by and
Kiss and stroke her.

She drops back to retie her shoe.
He waves the music off.
His voice jerks her to the center.
The others flatten against the wall, trail their feet in rosin,
Tug their leotards out of the crack in their butts,
Drag up their tops, easy cover for flat breasts.
They fall in half,

A solo.
Her feet ache.
She hid M&Ms in her toe shoes before in the changing room.
Food, sweeter forbidden sucked up by her lambs-wooled toes.
She takes center. Fifth position. Still.
The piano player will not look at her.
The M&Ms begin to melt.
Warm goo soothes her. He can have none.

If he ever invited her
To dance Swan Lake,
If he ever invited her
Just to understudy
In the corps,
Never actually getting onstage,
She would stuff her toes shoes with
Soft white bread.

Buffy lives in Los Angeles where she writes poetry and short stories. She spent her working life marketing Hollywood movies and documentaries and being a part of raising a son and a daughter. Her husband is a novelist. A two-time Pushcart nominee, Buffy’s recent work has appeared in Bird’s Thumb, Split Lip Magazine, Rise up Review, The Hedge Apple, and Dodging the Rain.



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