For weeks after the dance concert
your costume drifts above us
in the dining room;
an explosion in pink rosebuds and tulle,
weightless as Nijinsky’s leap.
When we walk beneath it
we hold our breath yet it is not ethereality I feel from it
but sweat and effort,
the earthiness and earthed-ness of dancing,
the on and off love affair
we’ve had with your dance school:
tacky costumes and too much make-up,
the relentless bump and grind
foisted on the younger girls
who can only wiggle hips.
Still the dance mistress was kind
and when you were tired she’d say
to sit on the edge and watch
(you can learn a lot like that girls).
And I have an abiding pleasure
of seeing all of you draped one against the other,
eyes taking in each move.
Before the lessons end
you ask me to pack away the dress.
Much later you’ll slash the tutu,
wear it over jeans,
and I will harvest the rose buds
of which the sewing on gave me
so many small wounds,
and they’ll get dusty in a red cup
on my desk
the year that you start bleeding
and I stop.
MORE POETRY BY LUCY DOUGAN