University of Texas at El Paso

            Jade Sylvan


Svetlana Works It Out


The oldest woman in Jazzercise

wears red lipstick

and a black sports bra,

though she doesn’t quite

have the belly for it.

Her nails are always done.


Her hair is always down

and whipping, sweaty chestnut

shoulder-length cascades

as she dances.  While all the other girls

are merely exercising, she dances

head snap and hip shimmy

arms dipping and grooving,

some bespangledly foreign she-deity.


After movie time with Stepson

and her weekly eyebrow threading

she reads before bed, keeping sharp

for all possible conversation.


In her dreams she goes shoe shopping on the Death Star,

entertains in baroque halls with Alexandra Fedorovna,

charming strange Grigori with her cocktail laugh,

pleasing the bleeding boy with sugar drops

and a furtive sip from her champagne.    


When the sun busts her nightly parties

she stretches, touching her toes before the

full-length mirror first thing, looks

at her face once before makeuping it.


While the younger girls rest

and clutch their breathless sides,

she watches herself in the mirror,

spinning, gliding, whirling


on stage. Rockette.  Dakini.

Scores Girl.  All woman as display

is she and her movement, is this dance,

smudged and glowing and fabulous. 


Jade Sylvan is a novelist and poet who can most easily be found at  She has been published in Word Riot, The Sun, and Zygote in My Coffee, and is the current poetry editor for CRIT Journal (  She has performed as the featured poet in many venues in New England, and is a regular performer at Boston's famous Cantab Lounge.