He sits astride
the fiercest looking horse on the carousel.
The race is on:
it is going nowhere—but the circles are
moving and his horse
is rising and falling better than the others—
shuddering—the music rushing them to the
end of the ride.
There are no other riders. He always wins.
Colors. Music. Compressed reality. Alone
among the revelers, I’m shoved along. A
form—insinuating love—offering a temporary
arm—then gone. Rides to the end. Thrills.
Screams. No one to hold on to. In every
Barker’s voice: cajoling promise, praise, seduc-
tie eyes and prizes. Huge white Teddy Bear.
Value received? All? None? Whatever is paid
for. Play. Pay. Money gone. And afterward—
kaleidoscopic memory. Life-long. Colors.
Music. Compressed reality. Lose or win.
Would I go again? Chance? Dare? Wanting
huge white Teddy Bear?
Why weeping. Why not. Have you not felt the sway
of great emotion; have you not felt time slip through
before you were ready; have you not favored regret
over favor? Oh, how you like the contradiction
of the mirror—that glass of lies. Break it, and it
it multiplies. See, I say it twice—to catch up; to run
past myself; to run right through the mirror to the other
side of life—that parallel, where I am in the arms
of my mother. Time is on a wheel, rolling backward.
I go ‘round and ‘round myself, always ending up
back to the moment, which is smooth—oiled with
momentum. Ferris Wheel.
A COUNTRY MADE FOR WEEPING
Clowns of distance come here, dressed for their
roles—but this is a black and white country—
no place for garish painted smiles; they have
followed the wrong signs . . .
No circus here . . . They turn and stare at us:
Why don’t we want them—Don’t we know they
can make us laugh? But this is a country made
for weeping. It rains all year.
After "Circus Trio (Dancers and Punch)"
It is the year of my birth. Three weeping figures
stand together and mourn some great sadness
which they share as they distort themselves,
wringing their hands toward each other.
Their eyes never connect, but stay downcast.
Their faces are bloated with grief.
They are beyond the comfort of words,
as if they have just learned of some tragedy.
Soon they will be called into the spotlight,
their costumes those of fools and comedians.
The band is beginning their entrance music.
Soon they will cavort and out-perform each other.
It is the year of my birth. My mother is joyous.
She holds me out to my future, which gathers me
in its folds and hides me from my sorrows.
Three circus figures are here for my amusement,
but they stand there weeping, wringing their hands,
away from me, toward each other. My mother
takes me from the reluctant arms of the shadow.
My future has been decided. My mother names me.
THE LANDSCAPE OF THE NIGHT ROOM
The room has blocked me in. The curtains are a
white frill, draped at a dark window night
crowding in. I press myself against the shadow
and become the wall.
Dreams amuse me. I am wearing my riding
costume to ride the white horse of night—
though it is rocking on its wooden rails.
I let myself go wild—wait for the mother-beast
to give me her instructions. She appears and
prowls the expanding room, then hunches back
and sniffs at the air to warn me.
Every night is like this. I stiffen on the ruffled
chair and brace for transformation—dare not
look at myself, though there is no mirror here.
The horse is a wall shadow now and the mother
beast is gone. My crib stands empty on the other
side of the room. The dream chair holds me in
its satin arms.
The window floats off into a dreamy distance
of its own.
THE SHY WILD HORSES
The horses dream themselves again,
translucent in the light
of this electric night—
with sharpened memory of when
they filled my windowed sleep
that was—and was not—deep,
the way they did when I was ten.