THE CIRCUS

L_caputoby Lorraine Caputo03 Aug 2014

Late summer one year

a circus came to the field near our house.

The large trucks filled with animals drove up,

painted like old time circus wagons,

the forgotten name emblazoned on the sides.

Tents were thrown up in the din of shouting and laughter.

The excitement built as their temporary settlement built.

We’d walk down to the edge of that field,

not daring to step from gravel to grass,

sit and watch these strangers.

The first night, the first performance

we were there

watching the tightrope walkers,

wondering if they really did have holes cut

in the bottoms of their buckets.

The lions and tigers were paraded out,

horseback riders

and tricycle clowns.

We laughed and smiled.

For a week

we’d wander to the field,

walk about the tents,

watch the man make sky blue

and magenta cotton candy.

Barefoot,watching for elephant shit,

cautiously reach our hand out

to touch that dry, wrinkled skin.

Our mother scolded us for going down so often.

But that didn’t stop us

from peeking beneath the tents,

slipping into the secret slits

to watch for just one more time

the ringmaster lead the people

into his world of circus wonders.

For six years they came

to fill those last waning days of warmth.

Then one summer they did not come.

The field lay barren of the brightly colored tents,

the air was still in the absence of elephant trumpeting.

I’d walk through the grass,

feel it rub against my thighs,

feel the earth ooze between my toes.

I’d gaze longingly across that field

wishing that the circus would come back.

published in:

Thirteenth Hour: Collected Poetry Readings, 1988-1989 (Columbia,Missouri: Twin Tails, 1990)