after Edward Hopper’s painting
Room In New York
She’s a ballerina in the New York City Ballet,
will never be a principal dancer,
earns enough to pay her bills
and replace her broken pointe shoes every other week.
She grew up in the deep South, left
for New York at fifteen. Now she lives
with her aunt, the pianist,
sharing an apartment
above a touristy German Schnitzel joint,
the odor of sauerkraut seeping
into their two bedrooms.
She never tans, her fair skin casting
her a twirling ghost on stage.
Her uncles were all farmers,
suffered from skin cancer.
She keeps her hair long because she must.
NYC ballet demands
all dancers appear uniform.
Equally tall, equally thin.
She likes her coffee black.
It reminds her of her dad, early Sunday mornings
before the stiff dresses and clean shoes
her mother woke up bearing.
She never learned to play the piano
but watched her mother give lessons
every Tuesday afternoon to high society
children in thick starched dresses and trousers.
Her father owned a clock repair business.
She would sit beside him
in opulent southern mansions,
listening as he maintained
family heirlooms in guest bedrooms.
She dates Wall Street boys now,
has grown accustomed
to expect postponed dates,
evenings shared with stock reports.