Double Plié

by Ashley Asti

A flamingo stands on a single leg, as if on a pedestal. Pink encases the bird as it contrasts with the greens and golds of its environment. The flamingo is graced with beauty, though it is unaware of its elegance. The bird is alone and majestic.

Interested, I stare at the bird.

The flamingo is a plain, yet dignified, creature. Like grand pearls on a queenly neck, the flamingo radiates regality. The feathers are simple, and though positioned naturally, each is in its proper place. The feathers look combed and plucked to perfection.

I continue to stare at the bird, who is taciturn and still.

Looking closer, I see the flamingo's beak is eccentrically curved. The awkward thinness of its legs is accentuated by the bird's peculiar stance. The flamingo's pink is too pretty, almost garish. The feathers look artificial. At first aesthetically pleasing, why does the bird look odd and overdone?

Seemingly embarrassed by my stares, the bird cocoons its neck within its feathers. Its neck contracts slowly, bending like a cord. Its second, lanky leg ends the circus balancing act, settling on the ground.

I watch quietly.

After pausing, however, this curious creature forgets its modesty. Its grace returns with confidence. The flamingo's neck stretches tall, despite my continued stares. It obviously no longer fears my opinion of it. It realizes its power and accepts its beauty, flaws and all. All embarrassment is gone. The flamingo approves of itself. Living freely, it is in charge of its own journey; its actions are not tainted by what others think. As if standing beside a ballet bar, one of its legs begins to rise. My eyes follow the ascent until the flamingo's eyes catch mine, and freeze them. The engagement is unrelenting as the bird stares at me as I had stared at it. The bird, however, stares to teach, not to judge. It possesses a new depth, as its yellow eyes grow larger. I want to look away, but the bird pressures me to remain fixed for a moment more. I understand now and release my gaze.

I want to be pink. I pick up my bag and begin walking along the sidewalk. My arms spread wide as I walk the curb. I lift one leg at a time, stretch my neck tall, and straighten my posture to balance on the tiny path. I head to the dance studio.