Project Description

Grade School Dance Class | Ann Taylor Sargent

She can’t allow street shoes
on the dance floor.
The wood’s soft, she explains.
There’s a cushion of space
between wood and cement;
the floor has some give.
Sneakers stay in the hall,
the students enter vulnerable.
Young children dance barefoot.
She offers some of them
baby wipes, “a treat for the feet,”
in the same way you’d offer
tissue to anyone with a cold.
But older children need socks:
their feet smell.
Some come without them.
Some have worn the same pair
over and over, are embarrassed
to let the secret out with the stink.
They don’t live with washing machines.
Their families fill apartments
and empty them, cycle
from one chopped-up old house
to the next, spinning.
She doesn’t like to see their shame
doubled by the mirror along one wall.
So she buys athletic socks, on sale.
She hands them to those who ask,
slips them to the few
who hang outside the door.
They pull them on like Christmas,
feeling the soft white terry,
the cushion of space
between feet and floor,
feeling the give,
reason enough to dance.