Ballet exam
By Anne Gill
 

Taking turns, each girl sits on the stool

now in the middle of the room. Her head is anchored

by Madame who takes a comb to the scalp,

 

removes the parting, and, ignoring any knots,

drags the comb through the hair. Now she twists it

and pins it. The pins press into scalp.

 

It’s not needed, but still, hairspray is taken up.

Girls hold cloths to their faces. Their hair is immovable.

It’s so tight each girl feels exposed,

 

naked even, in her leotard and tights. Madame tells them to jump,

and they jump. Now pirouette, and their calves tighten

as the girls turn, straight as poles, smiles fixed

on the spot above Madame’s head.