It is done. The time has come.
She knows she has held out as long
as she possibly can. That there is a limit
to the number of pills you can take in a day
to chase away pain, but this is her last request.
She stands at the barre, black hair sleeked
into a bun, nondescript as the girls in a chorus line.
She tries to make the music block out her thoughts,
This is my last grande-plié in first, my last demi
plié in second, and, elevé, and hold. Her eyes
follow her fingers during port de bras. And now,
onto the floor. When she was a girl, even in
college, floor couldn’t come soon enough. Now,
it is all moving too fastâ€“allegro vivace.
Another day on the coda from Swan Lake.
Inside passé turn, step, step, liftâ€“why must the leg
she will not use after tomorrow lead it all?
When the music ends, she realizes they
have been watching her. The sea of girls has
parted and stopped, and she has been dancing
a solo. It is as if something magic has happened.
She has not told them. She will not. She will say,
I don’t have the time anymoreâ€“
She might not have to say anything. It is a big
city; there are many dancers. No one might
She wants it to be the way it used to be
but it isn’t. Anything could set her off.
The sunlight hitting the field a certain way
a gentle swaying of the wheat. The way
Dolly warbles on a Country Hits of the 1970s
album. The way the dog suddenly starts at
a sound no one else hears. It has been eight
years since he got on the school bus at the end
of the gravel drive and was never seen again.
The tick mark on the kitchen doorway records
him as 46″ forever. When she held the ruler
level above his head, he’d laughed, Maybe
next year I’ll be taller than you!
I bet when you’re twelve, she’d said,
then gone back to stirring. If he is out there,
how tall is he? Have his shoulders broadened?
Would she even know him if she saw him?
Josh is missing, too. He goes days
without uttering more than a syllable.
Sometimes she acts like she hasn’t heard
him, so he has to repeat himself, so she
can pretend he talks to her more, even
if it is just, Can you please pass the salt?
She wants to know where inside of himself
he goes when he plows the lazy contours
of their farm, when he is in town buying
dog food and diesel. She has been painfully
present for all of itâ€“the police searches,
the interviews, and now the lonelinessâ€“