For Emma

A ballerina I once knew who danced eternally
into the dawn and died alone a long way
off from where she once belonged
she was born back stage in
the Paris Ballet where
she should have
stayed
in
anonymity
she ended her days
in a Northern California suburb
in a senior home unknown by those
around her though she still put on a show
for them from time to time, her only son had
been a doctor in Algiers when they had their
revolution and he went on to take his own life
upon his return to France, her first husband left
her for a neighbor’s wife and left her poor and
with an STD from which she nearly died,
her second husband had been an
American soldier with whom she
had an affair during the war
he then spent his entire
civilian career working
for the USPS and
only counted
pennies
and would
not pay her
rent for a dance
studio and zoning rules
wouldn’t let her have one
in their house, he died first
and she kept his ashes in an
urn in the attic and danced around
them from time to time so happy to be
free of his lugubrious demeanor so it would
seem, she had taught me ballet in my childhood
and starred me in Aaron Copeland’s Rodeo when
I was eleven for our community theatre on our army base
when we thought we were all important, big fish in little pond

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