Writing Prompt – Dancing
Weekly Writing

Writing Prompt – Dancing

I decided I need to start writing again. I think I stopped for awhile because I got too anxious about it–too judgmental, too worried about how it would come off, too worried about what I would dredge up. But I miss it. So here goes the first of what I hope will be a weekly (or possibly daily) tradition.

Writing Prompt: Respond to the following clip of a poem by Lisa Phoenix.

“dancing
is too important
to leave
only
to the young –

may our
old women
dance.”

Sixth grade, Valentine’s Day. My mom bought me the purple velvet dress I wanted, we put fake violets in my hair. I snuck some mascara from the pink and green tube lying in the top drawer of my parents’ bathroom. My dance card trembles in my hand, and I swallow hard as I look around–at least I only have a few blank spaces, mostly on fast dances. The boys are almost all shorter than me, their eyes at an awkward chest-level. I’m only excited about one of the dances, really. The parents snap pictures from the back, hiding behind the pink punch bowls and frosted heart cookies. I’m glad I invited my mom: she would be able to capture my moment forever. She had received careful instructions from me to do so. I hoped she wouldn’t come too close though–I didn’t want it to seem too obvious, like I had planned the whole thing out. For weeks, maybe months. The time has come–he claps his hand on my shoulder, wraps his cookie-crumb fingers around my waist. I put both my hands (shaking) on his shoulders. Step back, left, forward, right. We somehow get into a game with another couple where my partner tries to play mash-me-into-his-best-friend-and-his-partner. I laugh, but he’s ruining my plans. He’s ruining my idea of the one perfect dance. The song ends, and he has only looked at me twice. I drop my hands, mumble a thank you. He runs off to go eat another red cupcake. I go home and take out the violets, laying them amid clips and barrettes chewed-up elastics. My dress had stained my white tights purple.

I wish I could tell that 12-year-old girl that there would be other dances, magical dances–swaying in the moonlight, salsa in a nightclub. But this is her first, and it is all she knows.