The Don’t Hit Me Dance

by H. E. Casson
(CW: Child abuse, violence)

It was a hopping from one leg
To the other
In front of mother
A hop-hop
Muscles tensed
I sensed her anger
Stand as I can
Taking it like a fully grown man
But beforehand
My performance
My only chance
The don’t hit me dance
(I gave it that name
In remembrance)

And the partner
The parent
That sent me ahead
The tensing
The dread that began with the words
Get the yardstick
The ruler
The wooden spoon
And wait for me
In your room

What caused the dance
Was the game in my mind
That wanted to run
And to leave it behind
But knowing my size
And my age
And relation
Prevented me
From leaving my station
Beside the bed
With the dance in my head
And the stick in my hand
She would use on me
Repeatedly

I would do the dance in public places
When she would show one of the faces
Saying
Wait till we get home
Wait till I have you all alone
And anger
Hid behind the stare
Of righteousness
And only this
Defense I had been given
To dance
And keep on living

Originally published in Fireweed in 2002.

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I Was Once a Dancer

by H. E. Casson

I was once a dancer
Perhaps the very best
That the world had ever seen
A cross between a spinning top
And frijoles saltarines
And if I sometimes fell
It was a part of the dance as well

I was once a dancer
Until someone told me dance
Is not just movements
Picked by chance
But a very specific
Leap or stance

That must be
Choreographed, rehearsed
Frontward, backward
Left and reversed

And suddenly
I was not the best
Nor even highly rated
So now I do not dance
In fact

I hate it

Written for, and performed as part of, Ryerson University’s Disability Studies event, Arts With Attitude.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.