Big Top

27 May 1991
People are falling from my hands:
Lovers, Grandparents,
A young girl's face from Union Station.
They are all falling like leaves
Into a stream--slowly, so I can watch
Their graceful turns in the air as they fall:
Your attention, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On the center ring where Jim's Grandfather
(Thought to be dead from throat cancer)
Will attempt a death-defying triple somersault
Into the arms of the frail, but strong-to-the-end
Grandmother-on-the-Italian-side ! ! !
He's looking up at me, in the air,
His cancer preventing words,
But he's saying, There's no net. There's no net.
Had he more time, he'd try writing
Everything down on a notebook
For me to decipher.
But the whole circus: the Ringmaster and
Lion-taming women, foolish Uncle-jesters,
The former-acquaintance jugglers,
And old lovers, in tights, selling cotton-candy --
It all bounces into the flow
And is swept to a nearby sewer.
At once, I'm in a far city, waiting at a streetlight.
When it changes, I look over and there's a dingy clown,
In the passenger seat of the next car,
Waving to me through rainy windows--
Soundless, as if the person
Is reaching. When I do drive away, I go knowing I've
Watched and lived again, certain moments.

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