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