Issue 26: Cassandra Atherton


I unmake my pointe shoes; unpicking the past from their skin, burning frayed edges. They

come apart with coaxing, my blade filleting the shank like I’m easing flesh from a fish’s

backbone. Heel on heel, I cup the toe box in my left hand, pressing down with my right.

In the stiff resistance I find memory; nights backed in silver where we breathed in our

stasis and exhaled sorrow. In the soft release, I mark the arch and three-quarter the shank.

When I peel the onion of the toe, it’s like the ribboned layers of my epidermis being

stripped away.

Cassandra Atherton is a widely anthologised and award-winning prose poet and scholar of prose poetry. She was a Harvard Visiting Scholar in English and a Visiting Fellow at Sophia University. She co-authored Prose Poetry: An Introduction (Princeton UP, 2020) and co-edited the Anthology of Australian Prose Poetry (Melbourne UP, 2020) with Paul Hetherington. She is a commissioning editor for Westerly magazine, associate editor of MadHat Press (USA), and Professor of Writing and Literature at Deakin University.

Copyright © 2021 by Cassandra Atherton, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.