Marie on 'Dancing with the Stars'

What bothers me is not the way she flung herself

into her brothers for a big finale

then stretched her plump body

across them like a cat

or an intoxicated bachelor party entertainer—

or the way Donny held her midsection,

that red fringed fabric, with both hands

and for a moment too long

in an awkward sideways hug/squeeze

before sending her back to the stage

with a small thrust as if

returning a snared fish to water.

What bothers me is not that she collapsed

after doing her samba routine—

or that this made the audience giggle—

but regained consciousness in time

to get her scores from the judges,

saying, This is what happens to me sometimes

when I get winded; I’m sorry,

as if all women pass out when we get

a little too worked up and as if this is something

for which we owe public apologies.

(Where are the fainting couches

and smelling salts when we need them?)

What bothers me is not the time the camera cut

to Donny days after their father died

and he cried through his make-up

as he cheered his graceless sister on.

It is not even the time he whistled through his fingers

for her when she did not flub up the mambo.

Nor is it what you think it is: her dressing up

like a doll from a pedophile’s wet dream for the freestyle,

flashing her frilly pastel undergarments

and letting Jonathan Roberts throw her around

the stage while her limbs hung limp

as if she were just another dead girl.

What bothers me is that, afterward,

the rouge, blotted on her face with the precision

of an eight year old, welled up with beads of sweat

like so many family secrets coming to the surface

and collecting with nowhere to go.

I only hope that, during the commercial break,

someone showed her the small compassion

of handing her an absorbent towel with which

she could daub herself and pull her act together.

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