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.

human – or animal?

                           knees and 
                  bulging brain, bone cage, a
               Th- ought. Is this what makes us
              Dif-   ferent? The mighty hu-  man,
             Nat-    ure's greatest inven-   tion,
             an       evolutionary except-    ion.
             We      can think, love, care,    be
             awa-    re of our condition, we   are
                     Powerful. The greatest 
                     predator, we slay, kill
                    without mercy. Clever, or
                    Evil? Are      we  strong,
                    or simply      stupid? Is
                   compassion      a delusion?
                    Would you       weep  for 
                    me, your       enemy? What
                   separates        man  from 
                   beast? We        b u i l d 
                   t o o l s        to   kill 
                   brothers,        yet  apes
              build   tools         to feed them.
          We are the animals,       not them. They are the 
           H  U  M  A  N  E            O   N   E   S.


Add a pinch of dye and a dollop of lies,
Bake your promises at 180 degrees
And sprinkle with “I’ll always be here”.
Not that I’m fooled, I thank you for trying,
Don’t blame yourself – I’d walk
Out too if I could.
No hard feelings, I know it’s my fault.

Maybe I’ll sew a patch over the heart on my sleeve,
Eventually they’ll find out – eventually they’ll leave.