I teach my little sister

by Dana Alsamsam

I teach my little sister
how to sew her first pair
of pointe shoes, to score
the shank, avoid the silk,
shut the box in a door  
so it forms to her feet.
Needle in & out until
it fits with only the smallest
possible amount of pain—
a type of pain I know well,
my fingers needle-scabbed,
my toes shoe-scabbed—
a type of pain she will
come to know alongside
other growing pains, known
only by us who have seen
our skin from every angle
& with eyes not our own.
She will have the capacity
to place lost faith
in what a body can do.
My sister knows this
in a way I never did.
I starved & pinched
& lessened. She loses
focus, looks out
the window distracted
by the ooo ooo of a dove.
I feel I have become
my sister’s mother,
preening needles out of fabric
when her fingers are too soft,
preparing my undaughter
to traverse a stage, feel
for the first time flight
& to be motherless
& full of mothers all at once,
the shock of arriving
in herself—violent, blushing.  

Dana Alsamsam is a queer, Syrian-American poet from Chicago and an MFA candidate at Emerson College. She is the assistant poetry editor at Redivider and editorial assistant at Ploughshares. Dana's chapbook (in)habit is forthcoming from tenderness, yea press and her poems are published or forthcoming in Poetry East, L'Ephemere Review, Blood Orange Review, Bad Pony Mag, Oxidant Engine, Cosmonauts Avenue, Luna Luna and others. She was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. @DanaAlsamsam