sewn on and so forth

17 Feb

why aren’t the straps connected to the shoes? i ask the friendly ballerina.

you just sew them on at home, she smiles, so they fit your feet just right.

my blank stare surely betrays me.

oh . . . i do it. sure. thanks.

hours later, my hands’ hard work a meager success, i make the call to mom, glowing in anticipation of my return to the ballet bar.

sure, hon, i always sewed those on for you.


i’ve learned my feet have memories, fuzzy as winter socks.

tuesdays force them to remember, in a distant, lines-crossed way. with just enough radio-static to know the song’s familiar, not clear enough to sing along.

they recall once knowing this point and flex. the words – arabesque, rond de jambe, port de bras, relevé – like a language they took three semesters in long ago. they grab for familiar phrases and rush to translate mid-step.

the rememberings turn to recognition, of what’s been lost and stiffened. muscles ignored, grace grown stagnant, posture repositioned. they beg of other body parts, won’t you cooperate? can’t you remember?

the brain responds with pictures, posed at recitals near and far. remember . . . yes. i remember.

brain nudges shoulders: pull to spine, reminds hips: up and in, up and in.

slowly, surely, the clumsy ballerina returns. grace at eight does not, it seems, grow untended, but the feet remember. tight slippers, sore toes, it’s all coming back now.

my hands, however, remain awkward in their refusal to recall. sewing straps on shoes, needle to leather and too often, fingertip. stitching before stretching, no memory of this exists. grace at eight, it seems, was not the work of a passing breeze, but was planted – and tended – by a dedicated gardener, needle for a rake, and thimble for a glove.


13 Responses to “sewn on and so forth”

  1. Ari February 17, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    How fun that you are doing this! I thought you must have been a dancer before because your body just looks like it. You have the feet.

    • dearabbyleigh February 17, 2011 at 10:10 am #

      i’m sure you are referring to my signature dance move on the blissdom floor, right? i’ve yet to break that out in class, but ashleigh encouraged me to try it. what a friend, ay?

  2. little sis February 17, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    written as gracefully as the eight-year-old ballerina i remember :) i think you should post an old recital portrait to complete the picture!

    • dearabbyleigh February 17, 2011 at 10:12 am #

      ha! i don’t have any :(. too bad. . .

    • dearabbyleigh February 17, 2011 at 11:57 am #

      also. cute gravatar :)

      • little sis February 18, 2011 at 5:23 pm #

        i always follow my older sister’s advice :)

  3. Ashleigh Baker (Heart and Home) February 17, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    This? Is beautiful.

    How is it, these things we do for a while and then forget, come calling in later years? Reminding us they helped mold us into who we are, here, now?

    • dearabbyleigh February 17, 2011 at 10:27 am #

      it’s hard to realize you’ve lost some of what you were working hard to become by stepping away for a while. but it’s so so good to return to things for a second try. less pressure. come dance with me, ash!

  4. Kurt Blumenau February 17, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    I love that last paragraph.
    Not that the rest isn’t nicely written (it is), but I love that last paragraph.

    • dearabbyleigh February 17, 2011 at 11:56 am #

      thanks kurt. i appreciate your reading and taking time to say so!

  5. christy February 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm #

    This is *beautifully* written. Please publish a book. :)

    • dearabbyleigh February 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

      thank you christy. that means a lot. i’ll have to think about that last part.

  6. ashleynashville3 February 18, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    i love this! tell me more. are you taking a class in PA? just doing it at home? i have the NYC ballet workout dvd’s. I’ve always envied ballerina bodies, mostly because I am shaped like a volleyball player. ballerina legs? to die for. i never did dance. let me know how it all goes!

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