Sasha has pink shoes. the ones
With the rubbery tops
That snap over, the ones that
lily pink lines
Across her feet.
She sprawls into class
Every day
Like some underwater
starfish, her skinny
Muscles puddle
Over the floor.

I wear sneakers
To ballet class
On the first day. My shoes
Quack
Because quacking
Is what they are good at,
Everybody here is so
Quiet, I came here to dance,
To poppy-blossom
Sway.

Sasha says I’m going to get kicked out
Of ballet class because
I can’t do the splits.

I eat spicy chicken sandwiches
By myself during our five-minute
Break, Sasha says
I am stinking up the room.

When Sasha turns her back,
I huff a breath of spicy chicken
Air at her, making sure
My spicy crumbs
Punch her yarn
Head.

In science
Class, Mrs. Belle teaches us
About a male bird called
The club-winged
Manakin, who sings by
Knocking together his heavy wing
Bones more than one hundred
Times per second.

I am not a male club-winged
Manakin. I don’t have a beak
Of sharp, a hard beak
Of bones
That sweat, but my dad says
I can yodel
Pretty loud. My dad says
I can burp pretty loud, burp
Birdlike and flitting
Into my hands.

My dad and me, we have
Burping competitions sometimes,
And I burp a burp of
Silver plates
That clack, and clack,
Spin all over the paneled
Floors like
The sunlight that
Crunches through the
Good & loyal windows
Of our house.

My dad and me,
We Sing WHO LET THE DOGS OUT
And order Chinese food,
scrape & rumble
Our every elbow
& ankle &
belly, we like to make songs
out of clacking our sugar-cube
muscles, puff up our chests
our club-winged
knuckles, my dad and me,
we both want to be king.

When I clap
The floors with my white sneakers,
I am knocking together
My wing-bones hard, all funk,
All silver sweat, want to
Holler at sasha:
If a ballerina
Is a bird, I can be pretty.
If a ballerina
Is a bird, she doesn’t
Have to wear pink shoes
To know
How to strut.

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