Grace Cavalieri
Grace Cavalieri
May 30, 2014

Swan Lake

Having a mother who's a writer is a different grammar
from a mother who bakes cookies and measures table cloths,
That's why my children tugged each other,
after they studied a picture of me
standing on points, satin toe shoes,
a stiff tutu, with a split golden tiara on top my laquered head.
I looked like a silver string had been pumped from
hell to heaven with me in the middle.
Look at mom, they said, how pretty, perfection, every hair in place.
What a disgrace to tell them it was my cousin Marilyn
with the Stuttgart ballet who flew away like a bird to
reclusion and cancer, one lonely autumn day.
I, on the other hand, was the one with strangle-tied dirty toe shoes,
the ones with bloodstained toes inside
and never stood still long enough for a photo, much less a pose.
Hair frisking all over, just like now, rushing along,
For a second I thought I'd take the credit and make them all proud.
But for momentary glory, that would rub them wrong. I'll tell them
who I really am, at whatever cost, no satin, nothing to brag about,
- still going strong.