The show is about to begin

Slow down, we say. Don’t go so fast.

She pushes her nimble limbs to their young limits,

to the sounds of a tune she can’t yet understand,

moving as much as time & space allow. But

Slow down, we mean. Don’t grow up too soon.

She hears only the distant praise of an audience.

And when the last song’s played

just one last time

her final chance

she flicks a lock of hair from the rising colour

in her cheeks & catches her breath with hands on hips.

She smiles away the applause with practised modesty

& goes to receive that kind of hug from mum

that made her want to dance.