A Dancer’s Day Off
Early September 1975
(For my fellow sisters/dancers, Bev and Elayne)
Being a dancer I have to endure
late nights, sore feet,
travelling in a stuffy van,
doing two or three shows a night
and not getting paid my worth.
I’m constantly on the move.
Sunday is my day off,
I lay in bed late,
eat a bowl of cornflakes,
a piece of toast,
wash my fishnets and G strings,
luxuriate in a long bubbly bath,
put a face pack on
and weather permitting
which is where I am now
sitting on the doorstep
sipping English Breakfast tea while
my face hardens under the mask.
My mum whistles an Al Jolson song
as she peels vegetables for the Sunday roast.
The sun is shining,
the breeze fresh,
my fishnets rise then fall
on the line like a dancer’s legs
doing the can can.
My dance costumes, hung out to air.
swing graciously, the soft wind
bringing them to life.
I consider how my body slips into them
every night, Monday to Saturday,
how it takes at least twenty minutes to apply my make-up.
Pan stick, rouge, false eye-lashes, and red lipstick.
Then there’s the hairpiece which I curl every night with sponge rollers.
I fix it to the top of my head where it sits like a nest of curls.
Today I get to do whatever I want.
As the sun warms my legs and the smell of roast chicken prickles
my nostrils, I pour myself another cup of tea,
dip a dark chocolate digestive in, then
go back to watching my fishnets swinging on the line.