by Sarah Nemcik
Come in strutting like you own the place.
You've seen recitals before but the thought of IT
still makes your mouth a gravel road. A stone's lodged
in your throat so air comes in gasps
and a mist must be swept from your brow, arms, and back.
An hour to curtain call. It is time to change who
you are. Slip on soft stains gliding like fish through water
or glittering sandpaper costumes grating
skin. Enticing lips, dramatic eyes, and elegant hair.
Now you are a ready and the time draws near.
Behind curtains that rustle and stir
the audience is murmuring. Lungs search
for breath while your nerves are on fire with anticipation
and your heart becomes a hummingbird.
Soft lights flick on behind the black curtains.
The stage's arms open before you in a mother's warm embrace.
Hit your mark, take a deep breath, and wait….
The curtain pulls back, revealing the yawning, blackened
audience, now hushed. Wait for it, wait for it,
BAM! Boom. Boom. Boom. Rhythm explodes
and lights stare at you. Hips hit the beat while fingers twist
and stretch, grabbing for the sound. Slide,
extending foot, toes pointing at the dancer
next to you. Coordinate with the others, round and round then stop.
Suddenly silence, it is over. Roaring rips
your ears as you exit stage right.
Your body trembles, a mini earthquake. An oil slick
covers you and yet eyes shine with self pride.
Another group prepares to go; hours
later stage and seats are empty tombs.
One more dance completed and stored,
in your muscles, in your memory, in your soul.