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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

First Class


By Rose Salinas




At the little Greek restaurant, I pick up a brochure on Middle Eastern dance.
Sparks seem to shoot up my arm, as I tremble at the thought of this chance.
I gather my nerves to call and check out the advertised scene,
as wisps of flowing veils replay in my head — ancient dreams.

After winning — or maybe that's losing — arguments with the timid me,
I arrive too early and circle the block nervously.
Finally stopping to puke in my parking space,
I stumble into the dance studio not knowing what I'll face.

Merry greetings and warm welcomes set me slightly at ease.
Yet still have to peel away fingers clutching car keys.
I stand trembling before a mirror that has no end,
and we all begin to stretch, twist, and bend.

Squeezed into an exercise leotard like sausage links,
imagining everyone's eyes riveted on me, my heart sinks.
I squint at my reflection so it's blurred to anonymity.
Don't really want to see the clumsy, graceless, cow that is me.

Sweating even before the end of the first instructions,
my stomach rolls but not with the camel's undulations.
Muscles I didn't know I had begin to complain
I close my ears to protests of tomorrow's pain.

Then it happens, the music pushes me out of my own way.
So sensual, remembering how hips are meant to sway.
Peeking through lashes, I am amazed to see
This beautiful, redeemed woman smiling back at me.


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo of Shira by Pixie Vision, Glendale, California.




About the Poem

In 2005, a reader named Amy who enjoyed Rose's earlier poems on this web site wrote a note to say how much she identified with them. In her note, Amy said, "Butterflies was about wanting to be a belly dancer, and Powerful Art was written after Rose became one, so could she write a poem about becoming a belly dancer?"

Rose felt inspired by this request, and dedicates this poem to Amy for serving as the source of inspiration for writing it.


About the Poet

About Rose M. Salinas, in her own words (in 2004):

Hard to believe I submitted this as my first poem to Shira seven years ago. This poem, Butterflies, is still a favorite as it expresses my belly dance beginnings. I have since performed with Karen Barbee's Karavan Dance troupe in San Antonio, Texas, over the years and most recently with a troupe based in Maryland. I cannot begin to explain what this art has done for me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The courage it has taken me to look at myself in the mirror and to perform on stage has blessed the rest of my life. I finally had the courage to leave a job I hated, to sell everything that did not fit in my car, and move from Texas to Washington, DC. Now I have a job I love and the time to enjoy the rest of my life. I have been able to indulge my other passions, such as horses and painting and even make money at both. Life is good!

Other poems by Rose Salinas on this web site:



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