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  • Writer's pictureCecilia Innis

Seven Years of Ballet

Growing up, I have often felt wronged by my body

Maybe it was the seven years of ballet —

the black leotards and pink tights,

constantly staring into floor-to-ceiling mirrors,

muscles burning at the barre —

never quite doing what I wanted them to.

Feet that didn’t melt and bend

like the white girls’ feet in my class did.


I used to reach for a body I knew

but could never obtain —

a butt and breasts that fit neatly

into all of my costumes.

Thighs that didn’t strain against

the threads in my tights.

I used to think that folding my feet

under the dresser in my bedroom

would make them point.

And when my wishes weren’t fulfilled,

I felt that my body was punishing me for

daring to try to be something I wasn’t.


I can’t say I check the mirrors any less now.

Cars lined up on the street, even, are portals for reflection —

sunlight dances on their metallic bodies,

projecting my image into the stratosphere.

But maybe this time

they show me as I am.



Edited by: Ava Emilione

Cover Photo Credit: Cecilia Innis


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