Strong but skinny, or rather, skinny but strong,
I practise till the cows come home
Back in Berkshire. I’ve moved into town.
Thighs and shins start looking good in tights.
The days are mirrors, wall to wall
Behind barres. Margot appears in our boys’ class.
Come, she says, I need to practise
For Giselle. Have we heard correctly?
Yes. She beckons…me, and maybe Gus.
We take one buttock each, one hand.
We lift, that is, she flies up, into our palms.
Release the hands. She’s poised above,
Then she alights, she thanks us, then is gone.
Later, from the wings, I watch her swan.
Rudi threatens Von Rothbart, slips his crossbow
Just behind the flat, kneels on stage
To catch her in full flight. Then Rothbart’s back
On the ramp again. Crossbow, quick –
And Rudi has it but – it’s caught behind my shin
And there’s a crack, and he says ‘Shit’ in Russian
As I leap aside, so that he can leap onstage and aim,
Crossbow mercifully intact. Thankful for that,
I retire to the peasants’ basement dressing-room,
As Tchaikovsky culminates over the tannoy.
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