The Last Ballet Class Before the Operation Shaindel Beers Poetry

local_library The Last Ballet Class Before the Operation

by Shaindel Beers

Published in Issue No. 152 ~ January, 2010

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 fast–allegro vivace.

Another day on the coda from Swan Lake.

Inside passé turn, step, step, lift–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 anymore–

My son–

She might not have to say anything. It is a big

city; there are many dancers. No one might

even notice.

The Missing

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 it–the police searches,

the interviews, and now the loneliness–

the loneliness.

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Shaindel Beers' poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is currently an instructor of English at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon, in Eastern Oregon's high desert and serves as Poetry Editor of Contrary (; Her first full-length poetry collection, A Brief History of Time, was published by Salt Publishing in 2009. Find Shaindel online at