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ballet story excerpt

Monday 10/28/19

Really have to hustle. All week. More than ever. Need to get out of here in a second and send Halloween cards to my niece and nephew and hopefully they are there by Thursday, but not I guess they can get them November 1 and open over candy. Sending my sister some stuff, too, including probably the story I wrote today. They are so different, the two from this week. That bonkers-funny animal story from yesterday, and now today I composed a ballet story. It's kind of a horror story, also kind of not a horror story, a sweeping, beautifully human story. It's called "Parquet." Excerpt:


I have no certain way of knowing, but I imagine many people, hearing ballerinas walk in their pointe shoes, think of a kind of wisping. Tissue paper, weight upon it, daubing small patches of flat surface, balls of the feet like little thumb tops, wisp, whoosh, polish, arise, alight, polish, arise.

I do not hear that shuffle of the daubs, though ballerinas walking in their pointe shoes is my second favorite sound. I hear a paradiddle beat, a sound a jazz drummer might make with his brushes, alone, after the band has left, mulling what makes his groove, as the day closes.

My school was an all girls school before I got there. Size of a bank, new school built over it. Like a nesting doll in reverse, adding layers rather than shedding them. I would wonder whether the old school felt protected or smothered, if memories were infringed upon, or became more comfortably tenanted. It is hard to change, regardless of your form of energy.

When you were growing up, people liked to say there were girls, dancers, who died in the basement. Four of them, shot. Or was it an earthquake and they were smothered, one body locked in an arabesque, the others with limbs flayed, willy-nilly, but there had been that one that did not know to stop dancing.

The floor was parquet. Staple of the story. Parquet separates in time, gaps occur, then valleys, riffs in wood, spatiality, relationships. Certain woods are more conductive, absorbent, than other woods. I have always felt that way. Pine absorbs sound. Wants to keep it close, in abeyance for the right person in the proper moment.

Perhaps that is why the jazz drummer stashes his brushes until his band mates depart, works privately on his whispering, paradiddle beat, more lullaby than rhythm.

Rhythm is joints. It’s kneecaps, elbows, ankles. The bumps of us, triangles of us, our protuberances, what sticks out from under our skin. What sticks out from under your skin now, Clara girl, I sometimes ask myself, though it is a long time since I have been a girl, and it may be a longer time still until I am one again.

Lullaby is calf. Folds. Hillock of skin under shoulder blade. Muscle above breast. Slope of neck. Puff of labia, or is it a cloud? How do I know of the blood collected between the gaps, which have widened, always widened, continue to widen, in the parquet? There was a girl like I was a girl, and she would come down the stairs, where some of the parquet still was, partially covered by tiles, partially exposed, in a room where a pommel horse and mop buckets are stowed. And this little girl was a dancer, I could tell. Her shoes must have been very soft, the sound they’d make, their own paradiddle beat, on fluted metal surface, stairs grooved for traction, not smooth for sliding. That was my favorite sound, the coming.

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