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.