Spangled little girls take the stage,
choreographed to songs about
flirting, flaunting, and finding love.

The smallest ones don't yet know 
the distinction between performer and audience,
but they are beginning to learn.

Their eyes are on each other,
their teachers tapping along silently in the wings,
and the tape glowing against the black floor.

They seem to remember best
the moves which involve holding hands
and forming lines,

the comfort of reaching out,
finding another set of searching fingers,
closing the circle.

The audience roars whenever
most of them spin clockwise
while one turns counter,

and when another stops dancing altogether,
puts her hand up to her forehead,
and peers out into the darkness.

A white ribbon
floats to the floor,
as they gather to form the final tableau.

One at a time,
each girl spots it and
reaches up to see if it belongs to her.