Rebecca Foust

Preparation for Pirouette

When my newborn lay gray, silent, and still,
I saw a notch in the skin at his collarbone—a petal
puckered by rain or, over an open mouth, a veil
of chiffon sucked in—breath’s first pirouette.
When my mother lay dying, what pierced me
was not her mouth’s black puckered O. It was not
her hands going slack at the rails, or even her eye
sunk into iris-less stone. It was that last breath
shirring the flesh at her throat, the sign that she
—drawn utterly inwardly taut—was braced
to her clenched core against death. One day, my turn
to make a wreath of my arms, rise up en pointe—
then, whip-pivot-spot—be gone.
Let my throat ache then, be notched. Each flawed dawn.