The third runner-up for poetry in our Holiday Blog Contest is Lauren Berry of Houston, TX. Congratulations, Lauren!
In the Bitter Orange Theater, a Child Who Has Never Seen Snow
Paper snow on my swan costume, I tried not to prick the other girls
with the unhinged safety pin in my palm. Surrounded
by that desperate season, the fury of silver sequin,
the same shade as the walls
of my mother’s stainless coffin. And
I was told to dance over a frozen lake.
I pirouetted until the sweat…
It was never winter. There is no winter.
How willing, the imagination on a stage that snows children.
Where I grew up, seasons changed when a stage mother
held out a rolled-down silver leotard
and placed my hand on her shoulder— Step into it.
Right leg. Left leg. And then it was winter.
I shouldn’t have been sweating like that.
When show had ended, the serious curtain swaying exhausted, she’d unroll
my costume the same way, my hand still on her
other-mother shoulder and the floor would cover
with white octagons until I thought my little body
had its own frantic winter. It let her know,
this woman who could never be mine,
this was a season in which one could hunt.
In which one could discover me
in a cardboard forest and take me home.