Miss Heath

At seventy, our dance mistress
could still perform
a perfect pas des chats.
 
Her French was wasted
in the north. We stood in line
repeating parr-durr-shat
 
or sniggered
as she waited in the wings,
her right hand beating time
 
against her hip, her eyes
avoiding ours. She never
made the stage.
 
It took me twenty years
to understand. Alone tonight
and far from home
 
in shoes that pinch my toes
until they bleed, my back
held ballerina straight,
 
I wait as she did, too afraid
to walk into a bar
where everyone’s a stranger,
 
see her glide
across the city night
to meet me, tall and white
 
and slim. A step behind,
she clicks her fingers. Elegant,
she counts me in.

from Division Street (Chatto & Windus, 2013), © Helen Mort 2013, used by permission of the author

Recordings

Helen Mort

Helen Mort Downloads

1Beauty

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2Broken Spectre

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3Caceri d'Ivenzione

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4Carnation

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5Coffin Path

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6Common Names

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7Deer

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8Division Street

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9Fagan's

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10Fox Miles

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11Fur

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12George, Afraid of Fingerprints

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13Grasmere Oak

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14Items Carried Up Ben Nevis

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15Litton Mill

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16Lowedges

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17Miss Heath

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18Night

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19Oldham's Burning Sands

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20Other People's Dreams

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21Pit Closure as a Tarantino Short

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22Rag and Bone

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23Scab

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24Seven Decapitations

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25Sleep

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27Stainless Stephen

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28Take Notes

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29The Complete Works of Anonymous

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30The Dogs

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31The French for Death

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32The Girl Next Door

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33The Judgement of Solomon

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34The Rorschach Tests

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35The Year of the Ostrich

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36Thread

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37Twenty Two Words for Snow

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38White River Junction

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Books by Helen Mort