"Sara's Song" | Poetry Contest | Indy Week
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"Sara's Song" 


Susan Langford, Raleigh

"Each poem I write is a disjointed story of the ongoing process of becoming who I am and accepting that person," says Susan Langford. "'Sara's Song' was written about a time in my life when I was learning to love who I was, and to stop molding myself into the impossible images of what I should be." The poem interpolates Langford's experience into the story of a girl who wants to dance, but who is discouraged from doing so. "'Sara's Song' is an accomplished lyric narrative," says judge Jane Mead. "The story unfolds out of the poem's wavelike motion of music. It is the skillfully formed vessel of a triumphant, powerful voice."

Langford is a part-time student at Wake Tech and a full-time nanny. Her interest in poetry began on a camping trip in Idaho, when her counselor gave her a poem that he was carrying with him. She has been inspired by Chinese poets Li Po, Tu Fu, and Han Shan, and French poet Jean Follain. "I want to teach English in high school one day," says the 20-year-old Raleigh native. "I love to write and paint and play music, but I do those things for me. If something comes of it, then something comes of it."

Sara's Song

I got up that morning
washed my face
put on my dancing shoes
walked down to the dancing place
went in the door
someone said,
"Hey girl, don't you know you're fat? You can't dance."
I said yes
I turned and walked back out
I said yes
I said yes
the fat girl said yes
she turned and walked out
and her tap shoes rapped softly behind her.

I kept walking
my tap shoes clippety-clopped
on the sidewalk
downtown city in the morning
all the bustle people pass thinking,
"Fat girl in tap shoes. Don't she know fat girls don't dance?"
I laugh
sure, it's so funny
I laugh
I laugh
the fat girl laughs
as she passes over the bridge
she throws her tap shoes in the water.

Fat girls don't dance.
Fat girls don't dance.

But I can walk on my toes barefoot,
like a ballerina on Pointe!
But I can roll my hips like they're on ball bearings!
But I can bend over backwards, sideways,
make my arms like water, they flow!
But I can tap, tap, tap with my shoes
tap, tap, tap with my heart
tap, tap, tap, like no one's business ...

Fat girls don't dance.
Fat girls don't dance.

Yesterday I walked on my toes,
did a little spin
someone said,
"Hey girl, how come you never tried dancing?"
I said hey
I said hey
fat girl said,
"Hey, don't you know fat girls don't dance?"
I said hey
and someone said,
"Shoot, so what's that got to do with you?"
I said wait
I said wait
fat girl said wait
but she didn't say nothing more
and she walked away on her toes thinking,
so what's that got to do with me?

  • Finalist


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