Longlisted Poem 2013

Jemima Childs

Ysgol Greenhill School, Tenby, Pembrokeshire


Musky scent of tasselled theatre curtains; heavy and blood red,
shadows of dancers in the wings flickering as I draw shapes
on floorboards with the chalk of my sole. An oboe’s proud
timbre calls, and is answered by tuneless tones.  Scarlet lips, painted
as perfectly as a china doll’s, my high bun tight as an ice cream scoop
and satin ribbons biting at my ankles.  The tremolo begins, curtains rise
and the spotlight glares so that audiences disappear.  I see my own hand,
my fingers taut, gracefully held like a single note above the polyphony.
A ballerina, I dance the details, beautifully – even thought my feet
are battered at the pirouette, the jetés jar and the petite allegro splinters
my bones. Fouettés whip like whiplash at every refrain.  No one sees
my feet bleed, nor the blisters, for briar roses braided through my hair
detract, and chiffon swirls, and glittered tutus show off poised perfection
en pointes.  The wistful tempo fills the stage, and legato I follow it, for I am its
keynote; I tell its story.  I am warrior, hummingbird, shooting star, and
when the bass comes in I lead its echo to the rafters.  And as its beat
quietens, falls away, the cadence dying, then come the flowers, the roses
filling the floor, the applause.  So many stages, so many dreamy
nocturnes and always this; one more révérence, one more encore.
© Jemima Childs

Project Details

  • Date January 28, 2015
  • Tags 2013 The Details - Longlisted Poems