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Eurydice walks on tiptoes
Long limbed and calloused with bloody nails
Practicing her plié and rond de jambe
A kick of the legs and another half turn away
In a pink leotard that clings to her stomach
Which is round like chewing gum and feels
just as used when the teacher pulls her aside and tells her that her steps are too loud

Then she practices in the mirror, legs lifting slowly
Moving in a pas de basque, knowing it’s the same if she steps forward or back
There's only two fates for muses, death or tree
Like Menthe who walked too late at night
she-really-should-have-known-better and
what's-a-girl-like-her-doing-around-Hades-anyway

Orpheus says she’s got a pretty face so it’s okay
But really, she'd-feel-so-much-lighter-with-that-last-10-20-50-lbs-gone
He tells her that she should keep her breasts
As though they can lift and separate from her body,
Left on the shelf with worn ballet slippers

So she’s not surprised when the snakes sink their teeth in
They’ve always been waiting for the right vibration
A sissonne that lands too hard, a stomach growl in the lunch line
The venom spreads. She thinks of her dance teacher and wonders

There’s always a supporting limb and a working limb
and Eurydice has played the role of both
She moves from tombé, feet positioned to move forward or back

When Orpheus glances behind, perhaps it’s because
he never expected a fat woman to walk so quietly

Or else, Eurydice walks on tiptoes



Rebecca’s short stories have been published in Bewildering Stories, Devilfish Review, and NonBinary Review. She also works as a friendly neighbourhood associate editor at Apparition Lit. Though she lives in Canada’s capital, Rebecca always adds small-town drama to her stories. You can follow her occasional tweets at @_rebeccab.
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10 Jan 2022

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