En Pointe in the Living Room

En Pointe in the Living Room
Renee Emerson

Their hands rest softly as dust
on the hope chest.
My girls, two and four, practice
ballet to a video, “I’m a Ballerina Now,”
bending their knees, twisting outward feet
that seem to have only now been released
from the curl of my womb.

For sixty hours of volunteer work, they could go
to classes at the forum free, a friend tells me,
as I watch my girls in borrowed leotards extend
their arms, point toes, first position, second.

When my pastor’s daughter was two,
she lived in the slums of Latvia.
His wife says everyday she relives that little girl’s
nightmare of six years, the unforgivable providence.

Even here, there is evidence of brokenness. The elm limbs
in our yard, bare still in March, fragment the sky. I try
to point out spring to my daughters, where I can see
the early signs, buds on plants I was never taught
the names of. My mother worked long hours.

But I can point to this: next door, in the yard of the widow,
the tulip tree, the one the chainsaw guys keep telling her
is dead, bloomed this morning in a shock
of petal, ballet pink.