le cygne (polished personal)

What do the texts suggest to you about an individual’s capacity for self-sacrifice in the face of compelling circumstances?

(in response to the poem Dancer by Alden Nowlan)

– – –

You have always been the ground on which her shadow cast itself, not noticeable enough to even be a mockery of her image. You have always been a dull grey in comparison to her shining golden hues, her smile and her hair and her movements making all else seem plain.

You have always been her most favourite person, as you do not have the strength or the will to try and blow out her burning flame. You and her have always been together, and you cannot help but think that God only placed you on this planet in order to make others (her) look ever more wonderful.

And you have been alright with that.

You do not protest when she is given lead dancer or praise or love, because you have learned over the years that to expect any lesser could be likened to expecting the sun to shine any less brightly after a particularly harsh storm.

There is an anger that you wish you could feel after being pushed to the ground (your place) so many times, but she smiles at you so brightly and helps you when your tights have runs in them and braids your hair that you are compelled to feel happy for her.

You can remember that, on your first day in the company, she welcomed you with warm hugs and warm eyes and there was not an air of doubt that she started loving you then and there. It was in her, you think, to love unconditionally and unquestioningly, something that still makes your heart and hands quiver in happiness to this day.

You can remember that, on your first day in the company, the other ballerinas welcomed you with cold handshakes and cold eyes and there was not an air of doubt that they viewed you as another flower, just planted, among their beautiful fields and there was not quite enough room for you to grow fully.

Her body is tall and lean and reaches towards the sun (her home), and she dances as though she knows the entirety of the world would pause and stare at her in awe if they could – and they would. Your body is not-as-tall and not-as-lean and shrinks towards the ground (your home), and you dance as though no one is watching – and no one is watching.

It is almost laughable how much you rely on her, you realize, but part of you is quietly pleased that someone as glorious as she is willing to spend any time with you. Yet, another part of you is constantly rubbing this fact in the faces of the other girls, because the only words they

know are first position and pointe and jealousy. Another part of you wants nothing to do with her, fearing all that she does is out of mocking, mocking pity.

And, slowly, you have not been alright with that.

She has done so much for you, and yet the other girls still do not think she is deserving of all that she receives. She has never spoken words of malice or ill-will, and yet the other girls whisper to you of all the horrible things she has ever said about you. She has never looked at you with anything less than love and pride, and yet the other girls will glare at you horrendously and then say they are simply copying the way she looks at you.

Your thoughts can scare you, sometimes. There are times where her light seems to reflect onto you and you cannot help but bound after these thoughts, electric in your body and actions. These thoughts shift, tossed from the bright streets of your mind to the dark alleyways that line it, and there are times when you cannot help but stumble after it, venomous in your soul and thoughts. It is an unpredictable pattern, wild and unpredictable and you don’t know what you’ll do when you can’t tell the difference between these thoughts anymore.

It is one week before her last solo performance before the end of the season (and it is of The Dying Swan, a tragically cruel coincidence that you still think of).

You witness another girl, with hands shaking with anger (hers shake with excitement) and eyes that scream “hate, hate, hate” (hers scream love, love, love), empty a box full of tacks into her pointe shoes.

You stand up, quickly, ready to run to and scream at and hit this girl who dares try and dim a light that has always been so bright in your life, always sacrificed bits of her glowing person to feed your dim one. You are ready, willing to sacrifice so much more just to see her safe and happy

And then she looks at you, with those shaking hands and hate-filled eyes, and you see these same features on her, and you… you stop.

And then the other girl runs off, and you approach her shoes, and you look into them and, of course, the tacks are still there, and… and…

And you are alright with that.

When you hear screams later on, of pain and sadness (and betrayal, yet she does not know that), you steady your beating heart and wipe away an unwanted tear and put on a face of false-shock and walk in on her – bleeding, and crying, and screaming, and reaching out to you.

You help her up, you take the shoes off, you watch as people rush in and rush her out and you maintain an air of horror and of despair – when, truly, really, your heartbeat is pounding so loudly in your ears (and out of excitement, yet she does not know that), her screams are eventually mute to you.

When she, in a perfectly-bandaged foot with a perfectly-on-beat limp, says through tears that she cannot perform and then says through smiles that you will be dancing lead for this upcoming piece (and possibly indefinitely, yet she does not know that), you put on that face of false-shock and, now, happiness and hug her so tightly you feel her bones creak.

You feel her bones creak, and her spirit waver at seeing you so unbelievably happy, and you feel your fingers start to warm, your gaze start to brighten, your entire being becoming slightly brighter than it was before.

And you are alright with that.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One thought on “le cygne (polished personal)

  1. Claire,

    Holy crap. I am literally speechless.

    I can’t even begin to put into words what I love about this piece–there are SO many things (everything). So first of all, I just want to say that this was breathtaking–the style, that narrator’s voice, the symbols, everything was perfect. I loved the way you used the parentheses to establish each characters status, and how you repeated the line,

    “And you are alright with that.”

    The way that the narrator’s perspective changes throughout the piece is absolutely brilliant, and I love how that line punctuates the way she feels,. I literally don’t have words so this comment is really bad because I am in such awe. . . Sorry.

    This piece is just freaking brilliant. I’ve got nothing to offer in terms of improvement—I’m just gobsmacked.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *