During the Cultural Revolution, Madame Mao took control of the National Ballet of China. Government officials scoured the nation for children who showed physical promise, plucking them from their homes and placing them in state-sanctioned training camps.
The dream where the moon
filters through onto the dust
& I find myself in my mother’s
old studio. No longer bomb shelter, more flesh
than cocked gun. The snow comes in veils.
It is winter but the wood is warm.
Imagine Mao Tse-tung sinking in every floorboard,
stripped of his title years before Nixon.
The tears unsprung, undried
bloodspots smutted from rosy silk. Nylon
gone transparent over tenements
of skin. Clear & pale, with a phantom waltz
to glass each windowpane. There is a body on the roof
that doesn’t catch light anymore.
A line of dancers spiral back & back: the path
I trace with crumpled toes & hope, if I am allowed
that given long enough, these blistered walls
will echo themselves into inlay. The banners
dropped in mud. All mirrors robbed of likeness.
Matilda Berke is a rising college freshman based in Los Angeles. She started writing poetry in her junior year at Polytechnic School and will be double majoring in English and Economics at Wellesley. In her free time, she hopes to take up sailing, start a punk band, and see more of the world. For now, she plans to enjoy her last few months of SoCal sunshine and read as many books as possible.