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The Little Ballerina

In the photo on my Shriners tote bag,
a little girl in a pink tutu
dances before a wide-eyed cupie doll,
a Shirley Temple doll with blond ringlets,
an old fashioned baby doll in blue lace,
a teddy bear, a mouse, and a lamb.

Why was she in Shriners’ Hospital?
Burns? Her skin’s so smooth
as a child’s should be,
no trace of red ridges
of grafting scars.

Leg injury or deformity?
Prosthetic leg?
She seems to move so agilely
from her last pirouette,
hands on the edge of her tutu
like she’s about to curtsy
before her audience of toys.

Cleft lip or palate?
I can only see her back,
but I picture her smiling, carefree,
as if whatever was wrong
never happened.


--Jennifer F., Adult