Beginning Ballet over Forty

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I think yes, I have it. The pas de valse is slow

but winning. And then she wants a pirouette

in the mix and, in the room, I’m the tornado,

dizzy and feeling like I’ve been caught


stumbling in my underwear, a dipsomaniac

on the sprung-wood floor. I know she won’t

believe me when I say it was fine at home—


there, I have about as much room to practise

as a mouse in a milk jug; quality

must count for something. It’s like following

the cracks in the pavement and not


stepping on them for fear of breaking

your mother’s back. Only the cracks are never

a pace wide anymore, and it’s my back now.

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