Antony DunnWhen the time came we packed up the Big Top,
stowed it in the trunk and drove off the map.
Back in the dark the glass tent came alive:
trapeze and cannon, plunge-pool and high-wire,
everything shaken to a frenzied show.
And though we'd later accuse --- come to blows ---
we'd never be sure which of our number
left the Top unhooked; by trick or blunder
let our stars seize the chance, make a clean jump
out through the countless non-doors of the trunk.
But fled they were, for sure, when we arrived.
And though we made the best of it, and thrived,
found ourselves skilled in micro-mechanics,
some of us resented living off tricks
and felt in the itch of our bad-feeling
the bite of our great hope's flight, the bleeding,
the drop-by-drop drain of a life gone thin.
The fleas, somehow, still, get under our skin.
--- From In the Criminal's Cabinet:
An Anthology of Poetry and Fiction
Edited by Val Stevenson and Todd Swift
©2004, nthposition press
38 Allcroft Road
London NW5 4NE