When Tiny Dancer in This Music Box Falls

By Sarah Lim
By Sarah Lim

By Karen S. Córdova

Ruth Ann danced on Broadway in Cats.
Her blonde feline curves once scampered stage left,
pounced stage right. That whiskered doll, skin purring
with fur, now sits on a urine-stained couch.
Joints untethered. Muscles stiff.
Like a Parkinson’s Pinocchio with strings undone,
head droops, then bobs. Her arms and legs
approximate a vintage toy—thin stack of cards
that flip and fold upon themselves.

But Ruthie also can reverse collapse into
a bent, but standing, human branch with cherry
lips that offer chopped, but candied, Southern
drawl and trills unlike another broken bird could sing.

Tiny dancer sits like origami ball, unfurls,
missteps and falls. A woman sees, sits back
in lunch-room chair, assumes a role like
critic of music box pink ballerinas, announces
to fellow caregivers:

That happened because her family won’t pay
the extra charge for a one-on-one.

Published in pacificREVIEW 2015: Vivarium

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