First an aerialist.
A woman so light
she looks like a dewy petal floating
down from the gathered rose of the big top.
Palest pink satin
and sequins. How sure they are
she’s going to
--but to think it would be to wish
it to happen. She swings and tucks, her grip
loosens from the bar
a man swings out in an arc
from the wings, from the dark
to catch her
in that heavy
the long split-second where it seems sure
she’ll descend to the dusty floor, a crumpled
flower part. But he catches her. How is it
possible that he holds her so certainly?
Does he falter, inwardly, ever? We know
he does not falter. He is her very young
father. They swing and let go and somersault
to the ground, movements reciprocal
as they bow. Rubes assume only
they are lovers as he palms
her lower back and they disappear
into shadows—no one does
anything to contradict their assumption.