My Son, Dancing
Melissa Dickson

My Son, Dancing

The last thing I expected, a boy, 10, outside the glass doors
++++++ of the ballet studio mirroring each plié and entrechat, his face

++++++ as studious as an engineer's confounded by fulcrums and levers.
At home that evening he learned the five elemental positions

from his little sister, and the next week joined her class, the only boy
++++++ and nearly a foot taller than the oldest girl. And so I was the mother of two

++++++ aspiring ballerinas, one in basketball shorts and a pair of borrowed shoes,
the other in pigtails, purple chiffon and a pink leotard. What could I do

but peer through the glass as the weeks passed and his leaps grew
++++++ more graceful, his relevés taller, sturdier, his arms as elegant

++++++ as the curves of a silversmith's prize kettle? That he would pirouette
was inevitable, that he would twist his body into improbable positions,

lean into the splits the way most boys lean into a pitch, bewildering.
++++++ But it was the girls, tiny and shuffling around him, girls

++++++ who would soon leap into his steadied arms, that steeled
me for the afternoon he would fall and fail, for a heart's beat, to rise.

Melissa Dickson

is a poet and mother of four. Her work has recently appeared in Shenandoah, North American Review, Southern Humanities Review, Literary Mama, Fickle Muses, and Southern Women's Review. Her debut collection, Cameo, is available at Her Medusa-themed poems, collected under the title Sweet Aegis, are available at She holds an MFA in Visual Arts from SVA and an MFA in poetry from Converse College.