“A Song for Twisted Feet of a Russian Ballerina” by Saima Afreen


Image by Kljatov from Creative Commons

Against the cold surface there’s a sweet scatter

that refuses to fold in a badly-chilled lily. Snow

flakes curl up in Anna Akhmatova’s hat that

always measures the stanzas in a moving train;

you turn it upside down and dip your toe in Sirius,

on its warm dust curls your story, and the story within

when a little girl picked apples from pits, rubbing

them against her cheeks. Her little brother’s mouth

was cosmos. She didn’t know how to uproot hunger

even from tulle, chiffon and silk that slipped in cold

wardrobes with wolf eyes tearing her skin. And when

she uproots her feet from glass, it aches like what Achilles

may have felt. Her mother never gave her corals;

she plucks her feathers, satin shoes and moves

with Vasilisa, twisting with her bones, her tones;

ice is flaming. It’s time to open your crumpled feet

      ...there are fairy-tales in your heels.


Saima Afreen grew up in Calcutta and works as a journalist. Saima’s poems have been featured in The Nassau Review, Visual Verse, The Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Open Road Review, Friends Journal, Muse India, Coldnoon Travel Poetics, Wordweavers, Nivasini Publishers, Ræd Leaf Poetry, Contemporary Literary Review India, The Asian Age, The Telegraph, The Times of India and many other publications.