Five to Sixteen

Five to Sixteen – a Spoken Word Poem

At age 5 I dreamed of red ribbons on pointe shoes and silver tutus, pirouetting my way to prima donna beauty. 

I started ballet class in a baby blue dusting of a leotard and pink shoes that always came unlaced. Plié, and up, up, up.

I had started too late for it to ever come to anything, but passed my grade one, first position with merit before moving, pirouetting 289 miles up the country with the earmuffs from our performance of swan lake.

A pattering of years and steps and the red ribbons and leotards faded into books and numbers and The Future where daisy chains and tutus weren’t allowed. I still make daisy chains.

I was six when I fed my baby annabelle apple juice, forgetting that she of course, wasn’t real.

I was two years from sixteen when I first fed myself chalky pills that sent me in tears and a sick bowl to hospital, realising, to my dismay, that I was real.

I was two years from sixteen when I started thinking that if I couldn’t be a Russian ballerina, perhaps I could still look like one. 55 calories in an apple, 96 in a pear.

Now I am sixteen, sixteen thousand miles from the effervescent girl that mixed sprite and fanta in a cup, sixteen miles from the pretend prima donna who would dance without music and run in the rain.

Now I am sixteen, and the only red ribbons I dream of are the ribbons that lace my skin with each tear,

And the only silver that haunts me is the silver threading my mother’s hair.

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