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  You could have a big dipper   

11 years old, ballet class by Lauren Suchenski

I still feel the small scratch

of the barre against my fingertips;

small splinters in the ancient wood

the marley floor bouncing back

at me; a friend who never wanted to play

the chill of the piano and

my back straight as an arrow –

firing shots into the ceiling,

the bones of my toes stretched

in angled wizardry;

something that the angles of my

sinews are not meant to make –

shapes, like birds barely able

to take flight

I remember hiding in the bathroom /

I remember when I got my period

and it showed on my fresh pink tights ,

because the tiny bridge of my leotard

was the only barrier I had between the world

and myself ; the prepubescent gawkishness

of tiny breasts poking out of Lycra –

the endless mirror : staring at every small

shape my bones made,

my musculature only a form to be recognized

inside of a perfect form

in the mirror : the shiny friend I had

whose hand never held mine

but just bounced it back in deformed reflection

and the clock ticking – memorizing exactly

how many more minutes I had to go

my little hand grasping the barre with all I had

to hold on to something, anything


Lauren Suchenski has a difficult relationship with punctuation. She has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and four times for The Best of the Net. Her chapbook “Full of Ears and Eyes Am I” (2017) is available from Finishing Line Press, and a full-length collection “All You Can Measure” as well as a chapbook “All Atmosphere” (Selcouth Station 2022) are forthcoming. You can find more of her writing on Instagram @lauren_suchenski or on Twitter @laurensuchenski.

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