Tu-Tu in Training
Steph was wider than me, and shorter,
it was a gift, a hand-me-down
from her parents in their high house
to me and mum in our basement flat,
‘Come on try it on,’ Mum urged,
‘you’ll feel the part.’
I slid it up my non-existent hips
the shine of the satin, soft
as my hands smoothed over its bodice,
‘The skirt’s a bit torn at the hem,’
Mum said, ‘But I’ll fix that in no time.’
I looped straps over my shoulders,
they fell off, my pointy bones
unable to cling to pink ribbon,
‘Safety pins,’ Mum said, ‘hoik it up a bit.’
Hoiking and pinning, Mum, sideways pull to her lips
determined to make it fit.
‘You’ve got the book,’ Mum flicked to the page,
‘come on, position one.’
I tried, one then two, easy peasy this ballet,
then, knees like my dad’s, I stuck in position four.
‘Back straight, neck long like a swan.’
Mum had seen The Nutcracker on telly.
Shoulders cramped by a bodice pinned to fit
I sank a hopeful plié.
‘That’s it, you’ll make a ballerina yet!’
Mum clapped her hands in delight,
‘though, you will have to keep your vest on.’