Pas de Deux
1. She said: Tell me one thing that doesn’t end badly?
2. I wanted her ruffled tutu and toe shoes,
pink satin ribbons latticed up my legs like body armor.
She knew I avoided mirrors, reflecting pools.
What, she asked, do you dislike about your face?
3. Hers was a thoughtless beauty,
while I worked hard for everything,
danced my body into submission,
those endless practice hours at the barre,
legs turned out, toes pointing, pointing.
4. La laisse tomber, she said, when I leapt,
head-first into her arms. She let me fall.
5. I dreamed a solo, spotlight, applause,
not tucked in the corps de ballet.
She, too, dreamed prima ballerina. On stage,
her wicked tour jetés just missed my face.
6. A dancer in love with anyone but herself
is called an understudy,
she laughed when I asked her to choose.
That night, I arabesqued right through her;
she tasted jealousy for the first time.
7. She became a self-fulfilling prophecy,
out till dawn, sex-soaked, sweaty with another,
less ambitious girl’s perfume. (See #1).
8. When I found the photos with my eyes x’ed out,
I knew I would leave her.
My eyes - my one good feature.
First published in Anomaly Literary Journal, Sept, 2017
Tonight, I’m having drinks with my ex.
When I look for him at the bar,
his back will be to me. He will have less hair.
His ass will have spread.
When he tells me he’s left his blonde du jour,
I’ll swallow my deplorable glee,
tell him I’ve moved on.
But he’ll commandeer me out of the bar,
stuff his resolve deep in my mouth,
make the sign of the cross.
Like a priest, he’ll hide behind lust, then forgive me.
Look, each time he knocks me down, I right myself.
(I know which side I’m buttered on.)
He knows the limits; he hasn’t killed me yet.
Tonight on the news: the word battered, used twice.
It’s a sign.
I should have stayed home. Washed my hair.
When was the last time he hit you?
The intake worker will want to know.
First published in American Journal of Poetry, Jan. 2019 (From The Domestic Violence Series)
Alexis Rhone Fancher is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Rattle, Hobart, Verse Daily,
Plume, Tinderbox, Cleaver, Diode, SWWIM, The MacGuffin, Nasty Women Poets, Nashville
Review, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere. Her books include: How I Lost My Virginity to Michael
Cohen…, State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, Enter Here, Junkie Wife and The Dead Kid Poems.
Her photographs are published worldwide. A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, Alexis is poetry
editor of Cultural Weekly.