When They Dream of the Stars – Poetry by Trisha Santanam

Three Dancers in an Exercise Hall – Edgar Degas

It is the first performance of the season,
the performers nervously massage calloused feet
that will in a few seconds glide on shiny timber; 
we dancers are different breed of human
but like mortals we too have our gods:
the ghosts of dancers long gone. 

They were first spotted
over twenty years ago,
their wispy shadows flitting between the ruins 
of an era where self-inflicted pain
equated undeniable beauty.

Even when the building is empty,
I feel the weight of their eyes 
pressing down on me.

We take the stage, 
our hands placed delicately on curved hips,
a gauzy skirt covering a valley of sucked in fat;
replicas of those who came before but
dreams of those who come after.

A smoldering candle,
some frantic buckets poured 
on thick velvet cloth,
plumes of smoke billowing out,
the drop of the heavy curtain:

As I lay there buried beneath
mountains of debris, 
a cool vapor swam around;
the dancers fearful yet unable to 
escape the ancients.

Lightly, I reach out a hand
but get no help,
and like those who came before,
drift into the eternal dance of suffering.

About the Poet

Trisha Santanam is a student from Greensboro, North Carolina. Her work has appeared in Train River’s Summer 2020 poetry anthology and is upcoming in the Cardiff Review and PANK magazine. 

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