Star Jumps and Slippers

Image of slipper and Louboutin featured in the poem
unedited audio recording of Brenimara reading “Star Jumps and Slippers.”

Brenimara’s forthcoming short film is inspired by Danielle Imara’s Zoom cardio sessions called “Star Jumps not Slippers.” As well as collecting footage from the exercise class, we filmed choreographed domestic situations and wrote a collaborative poem by each adding to two threads every day for a week. The writing will be repurposed for the film, but here is the poem in its entirety:

Star Jumps and Slippers

Star jumps get their name because you reach up to the stars, again, again and again,

and also because you look like a star shape, pushing down, out, and up, reaching and falling, over and over.

Air fills lungs, and heart beats fast like excitement as you reach, reach, reach.

I used to think I could fly, dream of flying, live like flying. Sometimes just being in a forest in the breeze or even in a park feels like flying.

Star jumps make moments of flight and falling; gravity asserts itself over and over. 

Every time I reach, I fall. But the falling isn’t the point. It’s that moment when you float, when you exist without touching anything but air.

But you land, land, land, compressing the discs in the spine, bringing you closer each time to vanishing altogether.

I want to say it won’t happen, but every moment I’m getting closer to disappearing, and I know it’s vain to say it matters. Everything changes. Movement is life.

I want to reaffirm this with each star jump, but is jumping up and landing on the same spot movement?

When I see myself on the screen, I think about symmetry. If I miss the centre, it irks me. If I land in a different spot, I try to shift back to my starting position.

I try to feel those in the virtual room to learn if we are jumping too much, too fast, or not high and fast enough

Sometimes I feel like I’m not really there at all, or only the little me in the square on the screen is there.

My favorite slippers are black faux fur with pearls the size of candies, 

but the ones I wear more are night blue with knitted uppers, and arch supports.

I had some that made me a creature with furry brown paws,

When I bought them I was high and seeking comfort; I kept them years.

I just bought a pair of seven inch Louboutins from a cobbler on a street corner, partly because I thought he needed the money but also because I wanted to imagine I could wear them at home if a lover could ever visit and if I ever had a lover.

And if I did, would the stilettos make him love me more? Would I ever let him see me in my night blue slippers, with knitted uppers and arch supports?

I’m wearing them now, feeling judged, feeling like I’ve failed, feeling like I’m sitting here in a void. But my feet are so comfortable in these slippers. The Louboutins were too tight anyway.

Wearing slippers makes me feel like a successful human: I am taking a simple step to self care, and I am civilised; mother would be proud. 

Mother is me. I am Mother, in my slippers and dressing gown, with my hot water bottle and my cup of tea. I am Mother. Mother is me.

And Grandmother. Did Mother look down at her slippers one day and say the same? 

Sometimes when I’m walking with my mum, she says, “Who is that little old lady coming towards us?” Then she looks again, and says, “Oh, it’s me.” 

I am similarly shocked when I catch sight of myself when I’m not making the face I make when I know I’m being seen, or when I accidentally turn on my camera and catch myself looking down instead of up.

Forgetting my appearance means I can get on with living. But also it can be fun to dress up and remember that I have a body. I won’t be in it long, so I might as well make the most of it.

That’s why I like moving. It reminds me that I’m alive.

By Yolande Brener

Yolande Brener has worked as an actress, filmmaker, singer in an all-girl band and disciple of an alleged Messiah. Her memoir, Holy Candy, won first place in the Writer's Digest self-published life stories competition in 2014. She won New York City Parks' Department's Poems in the Park competition in 2010. Her work has been published in New York Press, Black Scat Review,, Anthem Journal, Strange Angels, Harlem World, and others. She teaches English at City College and Borough of Manhattan Community College. She is currently working on a graphic novel.

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