She perked me up when she did her perfect pirouettes to the Blue Danube waltz. She wore a sky blue tutu made from stiff nylon netting and bright pink pointe shoes tied with ribbons around her ankles. She held her arms in fifth position, one in front at breast level, the other gracefully curved above her head. Balanced on one leg, she turned on a shiny gold metal stage. Intermittently, her free leg went straight out to the side and came back in, foot placed exactly at the side of her other knee. She lived and danced inside a glass case on top of a dresser at 7018 North 3rd Avenue. She was with me for three years. In the dark I’d watch her spin by the glimmer of a dim nightlight, listening to the sound of the waltz. I fell asleep practicing ballet positions in my head as she made tiny shadows across my pink and green flowered bedspread. Later, I forgot about her. When I remembered to wind her up with the little gold key on the side of her glass case, she always performed like a prima ballerina. The tighter I twisted, the faster she danced.When the time came to move away, I packed her in a box with layers of white tissue paper. I told her the new place would be better. She’d have different music, learn new routines and maybe find a partner. “When you’re in the truck,” I said, “just pretend you’re dancing.” The journey was noisy and treacherous. She banged around in a box while I rode on an airplane. She made it all the way across the country, but had to wait in a warehouse before the men delivered her to her new home. Hurricane Betsy hit town and flooded the building. Trying to swim her way out, she listened for the song line of the Blue Danube to carry her to safety. She drowned in oily water as pots and pans, baby clothes, and photos of other families floated by.
(Originally published in Stark, The Poetry Journal, l-alep)
Gleah Powers is the author of the award winning novella Edna and Luna, which was named a Finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. A Pushcart nominee and a recipient of an award from the Barbara Deming Memorial fund, her work has appeared in print and online in the San Diego Reader, Iron Horse Literary Review, Longridge Review, Permafrost Magazine, Canopic Jar, Southwestern American Literature, Prime Number Magazine, Red Savina Review, Lumina, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, New Delta Review (as runner-up in the Ryan R. Gibbs Flash Fiction Contest), and many other literary journals. She’s been recognized in "Notable Stories" in the Million Writers Award; a shortlisted finalist in Pulp Literature’s Flash Fiction Prize, in C&R Press’ Chapbook competition, and in Split Lip Press’ Chapbook Contest. She completed her formal art training at the California Institute of the Arts and has worked professionally as a painter, actor and dancer in New York, Los Angeles and Mexico City.