Six Movements of My Spine
   by Casey Ford Casey Ford

Casey Ford will complete her M.A. in December 2015 at Lamar University, where she also teaches basic writing and freshman composition. Her master's thesis is an opera libretto entitled Mauberly and based on Ezra Pound's biography. Her sonnet series entitled "As Best I Can Recall" recently won the CCTE Texas poetry prize, and she hopes to attend the Sewanee Writer's Conference this summer as a scholarship recipient.

I wanted her to be a ballet dancer.
Three years we made the trip across the bridge;
each time I'd watch her sucking in her breath,
tiny shoes beside her, eyes wide open,
hating me and wanting me to hold
her, too; she was my independent child.

Add to that she was her father's child.
Her toes on his, he taught her how to dance
the two-step, how to lie, and how to hold
bad feelings hostage. So we'd cross the bridge,
the doors of Miss June's studio wide open,
my reluctant ballerina holding her breath.

Later she would learn to use her breath
remarkably in music. The lucky mother,
I'd listen to her practice through the open
door of her bedroom. Her voice would dance,
creek water over stones beneath a bridge.
An older woman's voice, how she could hold

a note and never waver, she could hold
my heart inside her song, control her breath
so expertly—and yet, we're at the bridge
again, she on one shore, I, her mother,
on the other, cannot stop her dancing
far too close to water's edge, the open

floodgates, raging waters, roaring, open
arms just aching for someone to hold
tight. She will spend so much of her life dancing
around the point, forgetting how to breathe.
She'll come to be a woman with a child's
paradigm, her mind an open drawbridge,

and nothing's quite so useless as a bridge
no one can cross. One day, my door will open
and she'll be there, my independent child.
She'll need compassion, and I'll give it, hold
her, each of us will take a cleansing breath,
separate and together. And we'll dance.

Arch into the bridge; now press, and hold.
Your strong spine will open. Let it breathe.
Embrace its hum. Others will join your dance.

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