Principal Dancer by Steve Goodlad

“I used to be a dancer” she said as she stood all arthritic knees holding on to the back of her chair. “But now I’m….” the words she failed to find.

Each visit; it’s like all that sweetness of honey is still in the jar with a lid too tight to open. I can’t predict what will fail her next. But I can be sure she will repeat, that she used to be a dancer. Such a democratic, modest term for a principal that toured the world. It sounded like she danced because everyone else did, when everyone danced because of the way she danced. They aspired to be like her. Not just because of the way she danced but because she made them feel as though she was no more special than they were.

She’s standing at the window staring at the blossom petals falling like snow. She wears sheepskin lined slippers held on with Velcro, but her feet I notice are unconsciously in the first position, her arms; simple, relaxed. Her muscles remember what her mind cannot.

“I have something for you.” I held out pink silk ballet shoes. Her eyes sparkle as I fit them on her.” Would you care to join me?” She smiles as I stand, bow and raise my arm.

She relies on me to lead her, and at times for balance, but there’s a semblance of elegance and a certain poise. I take her weight, what there is, and she lifts one leg straight behind her and I know she’s hearing the music as we step through the French doors into a blossom blizzard. I hold her by the waist and she whispers:

I’ll never step foot in there again.

Then arm in arm, we shuffle away together toward shrinking tomorrows.

Selected Weekly Write #12

Published in Issue #28

No comments:

Post a Comment