a poetry e-zine

 

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

LL House

MY LIFE AS A CIRCUS FREAK

(with appreciation to James Dickey)

 

 

I.

Because I was born half-girl, half-horse,

I belonged to a circus. At times

I made it money, at other times

I did not. Fruit and stones

were thrown at me, but

I had a pink dress and

a pink ribbon for my hair,

which grew down

the length of my backbone.

And when I heard the horses

in the fields, I knew

that I alone understood two languages.

Such were the circumstances.

They made a performance out of me.

Did they change my destiny?

The minotaur's rage? No. Commerce.

The training of hooves to curtsy.

 

II.

I had a mother

feral and sturdy.

My father came to her

one night

when timothy-sweet

dust layered the air.

He performed

this punchline of human jokes,

moaning. He stroked her neck.

She felt it as love.

and carried me in her belly

with joy.

 

III.

I was born with two hands

and two hooves.

Afterwards,

my mother grazed.

Seeing me in waving grass,

a village man crossed himself,

muttering. He stole

me at night, under a threaded moon,

hiding me in his house,

stifling my cries

with cold cow's milk,

covering my knock-kneed legs

with skirts.

 

IV.

In time I had

to earn a living.

The circus owner came

waving my handwritten note,

and a contract of sale.

The new gold in my stepfather's hand

emboldened him

to demand for me human treatment.

(At that moment I heard

for the very first time,

a horse cry out once, and then quiet.

The call required an answer.

I opened my mouth. Nothing

came out but words:

I am here, in my father's house”.

I thought I saw, far away,

a horse, running up into hills.

My hooves pawed the ground,

twice, but no one noticed.)

The circus owner laughed,

(a whinny of his own), and held

out a satin dress. I took it.

 

V.

Can I be blamed? I have a

little mirror, and a stool,

where I sit, behind bars

(for my own protection). When

people file past, some turn away,

some laugh. Some look straight

into my eyes, as if they can ask

me any question they want to ask.

I don't like those. I raise

my little mirror and I blot them out.

 

 

 

 

IF WE'RE NOT CAREFUL

 

a poem will drop down

out of the sky like snow

and fall on our tongues

it will burn for a second, less!

like blue-white fire and

then disappear. It's the

bitter aftertaste we'll grope for

deep in the blizzard,

where we have to find the rest of it

in all the howling.

 

 

 

LL House studies poetry with Lisa Bellamy at the Writers Studio in New York, is a former dancer and newly-minted lawyer, and sometimes moonlights with a wildlife rehabilitator, where she specializes in giving subcutaneous fluids to possums.

Copyright 2012  Chantarelle's Notebook