Dancing Queens

I am back

in the small kitchen.

Supper is on the stove,

the formica table

seems so large,

steam is condensing

on the old windows.

My feet are bare

as I cling on to your

maternal apron

strings and bury

my face in your tummy

as I place my

five year old toes

on your slippers

while you waltz me around

in front of the electric cooker,


You sewed

my cabaret costumes;

neatly embroidered the

points of my silk

block ballet shoes

(how I wish I'd

kept them now);

you made me the

grey felt wolf mask

with black snout

and sharp teeth.

Now I run

as the wolf

as I shapeshift into


My mother,

my dancing queen.

Flash forward

another forty years

and we are dancing


This time I hold

you up

as we step

forward onto the dance floor,

when the orchestra

plays your

favourite song

by ABBA as we cruise

the Baltic under the midnight sun.

I pushed you round Stockholm

in your pink wheelchair,

the cobbles of the old

town rattled your bones

after we had cinnamon buns

and coffee in the square,

then looked over the Vasa

staring drowned sailors

in the face.

Sometimes, when I am

drowned by a wave of grief,

I go back to the small kitchen,

your apron strings

and our dance,

and I can feel your feet

holding me up again,

and we are laughing.

I may cry a thousand

daughter tears

as I remember

all the times

we laughed

and danced

and sometimes fought

in that rhythm that

only mother daughters

step to,

yet I know that you

are there to lift me up

as I waltz as a queen,

wearing your cape now,

twirling old apron strings,

like Nana’s ballerina.

My mother,

my dancing queen.

We are laughing again,

you are young

and only seventeen,

as that is how you feel

on the inside.

Forever dancing,

having the time

of your life.

Here I am,


in your footsteps.

SCM 2018