Ballet Is Never Enough

by Lynda V. E. Crawford



For Caribbean girls who want to point toes
tighten, lessen their backsides into the unnatural
stretch to strings of violins—having lost the kora

For Caribbean girls who strain to keep arms above heads
pirouetting away from ancestral earth skin

Be wise

Listen to your mothers who laugh with teeth and tongue
watch them grabble flared poplin dresses
above their knees; gyrate hips into a curved spoon-bowl
a cycle of earth life, circle of star life

Be carefree

Follow Mudda Sally, caress fertility ripples blue/green
clear from across the ocean
of your future, your past, your present musk life
look askance at small-bone-breaking dances
that bend and bleed phalanges

Be swift

Push past advents: Spain, Portugal, England, France
push past interims: kompa, kalenda, bele, kaiso
wuk down into deep dance—a dingolay
on a sea path to reclaim your original womb



Mudda Sally is a Barbadian fertility character traditionally performed by a male in mask but today performed by unmasked women with stuffed sacks to exaggerate bosoms and bottoms.

Lynda V. E. Crawford has lived in the U.S. longer than her childhood home Barbados. Both homes sway and punctuate her writing. She writes poetry vignettes to sneak behind eyes, blow through ears, stretch voices like others dance words. She’s been a journalist, copywriter, website manager, and email marketer. Poetry won’t let go. Her work has appeared in online literary journals including The Galway Review and The Bookends Review, in anthologies including Los Angeles Poets for Justice: A Document for the People, and at Moonstone Arts Center’s International Women’s Day 2022.

Back to Vol. VII: “Flux”