From her husband’s teeth, the thin lady hangs,
her star-painted seat twirling as he swings
precariously from his brother’s arms,
who dangles upside down, as if harm
knows nothing of the circus wire, taut
between belief and fear, the locals taught
respect for gravity, for faith, for all
that brings the dollars in when crops won’t sell.
The larger tale looms outside the tent,
beyond the dried-up field its farmer rents
to last-ditch auctions, hawkers, traveling shows
that feed your hungry kids when corn won’t grow.
The sky is blood-black on its outer rim,
the clouds contort and flip, the crowds within,
know nothing of the funnel—or the rain.
The big top twirls closer, juggling pain.
— Marjorie Maddox, author of Perpendicular As I
This poem is offered as part of our August theme: Carnival & Circus
T. S. Poetry