To My Daughter in Her Pink and Black Polka Dot Prom Dress
Steam, the slip
of the dress. I press
your first prom dress
this morning. Smooth,
it is simply filled
with tiny, black polka dots
stars of black
in a bias-cut
sky of flesh pink.
I am lifting the iron
not to press seams
into this fabric,
but to pull
the lines and creases
from the marshmallow cloth
with that same kind of pressing
(not to be felt too much)
that comes with mothering,
that wielding of heat
not to burn what is fragile.
My reading glasses fog
as this latest photo
develops in the steam emulsion:
a picture of basic
white stars in a pitch-black sky
that you will step into
this night, this dancing
this dark flower at your breast
a bright one at your wrist.
I have chosen to rejoin
the battle with my body
the scene of conflict?
A ballet studio. The spoils?
Nothing more than satisfaction at
attempting this art again
at age forty-three.
Day one finds me dressing:
first layer, red half body, second layer,
grey allbody suit of a security blanket
with bare feet, these in the
fairest yellow socks and soft
pink leather, last layer,
a very thin, grey bib, a smock,
a friend, offhanded old garment,
cinched with another old friend
so used one couldn’t call it elastic.
Alltold, I feel like one of the pigeons
on the ledge right outside the courtyard
window, mime of me,
gripping their ledge with red shoes
as I grip my steady, anchoring barre,
my grey breast similar and
full of flesh. One difference:
How suited to their purpose my
line of beauties at the window
are to clasp and unclasp their toes
and move like on a rope and
stare at us all, dark beads and blunt beaks
pressed into their heads, lost
in their necks, lost in their feather torsos.
They flutter fantastic when
our wings brush in unison
beaten along by a perfect chord.
Another instrument suited to
its purpose. But I am satisfied
to twist and cajole tendons
outward again and make my torso
function for the purpose of perfection.
I am satisfied, though not
as accomplished as the Pigeon
Corps de Ballet planted in the empty
window boxes of the Coronet Theatre.
I am not suited to this life
or to this task,
but the variable angles
of inner and outer grace
challenge me to find
just what I am suited for.
entering the surf
riding the blades
the vegetable vortex
into my own
prime grip rev roll clip
dump sail tip press slip
low tide lawn, sea shorn
my three buds chase through grass
high to their knees, plunging across
translucent with delight
waves taking their bodies, their smiles
their same delight sending a message
straight up to the sun, twin radiance
shared, shed radiance
beaming from between the blades
enchanted ground knowing certainly
that these kinds of creatures do exist
these buds just sprouting wings