The shoes, though pink and shiny and paired with flat white tights, were not what you wanted. "They are not ballerina shoes," you protested, knowing very well the difference from the ballet flats and the pointe shoes and just regular human shoes.
"I want some like yours," you said.
Your mother no longer wore her ballet shoes; she had once been a prima ballerina, and there were photographs of her and postcards in sepia tones that captured her in a moment of what seemed like effortless grace. Arm raised, elbow bent at such an angle that she looked like the branches of a willow tree.
She limped now, although she did not often walk. And you would pretend to be her from years ago, with one toe pointed out behind you and you would shout gaily, "Arabesque, mama!"
And she would correct your pronunciation, but would not show you how to keep your knee straight or your position aplomb.
"I am not a ballerina anymore, darling."