I was told to be quiet when I was a child
To be neither seen or heard
To stop being so silly
Not to laugh or cry
Certainly never to show fear
Or my age
For fear of showing them
Their own nightmares.
Then I was told not to dance
To stop expressing my soul
In such a carefree and abandoned way
To cease now while I still could
And so to save myself
I silenced my toes
From the rhythm they lived and breathed
And in that one act, I put away my soul.
Then I was told not to write so boldly
So freely and with such wild imagination
This time my teacher’s envy evolved
To such a monster that swiftly
I put all my pens and paper away.
They told me I could neither sing nor dance
To stay quietly in the crowd
With all the mediocre “talents” instead
And not dare to tread the stage
Where my heart and soul wept to be heard
And cry out their desire
And so, like Cinderella instead, I swept
I mopped and I bent
Until my back ached so much
From the life unlived
From the passion unspent.
And so now, when I dare reach out
To that which calls my soul once more
When the desire to dance takes over
Moving my body around the floor
When my heart sings out, no matter who hears
And when my pen takes flight across the page
Slowly, tentatively I let myself go.
Yet, even now, such reticence, such fear
For daring to tread where my own Angel
Once boldly and so badly wanted to go
Decades on and my pen
My feet, my body and my soul
Dream still of the performers’ deeds
Looking on, in the audience of life still it seems.
They told me to be quiet
To stay still
To write no more
For fear of outshining
Whoever was around
How sad a life is found
In the ghostly light that envy demands.
©Angela Dunning, 22nd April 2019
Art work: ‘Dancer Sitting’ by Jean Jansem