When the Circus Left Town

Empty popcorn tubs wedged into tire tracks

and elephant footprints,

and the children waited on the edge of the field.

They eyed the crushed grass

and waited for the magic to manifest

into tall striped tents and girls twirling on trapezes.

The ghosts of clown cars

haunted the puffs of exhaust smoke,

and the children’s faces lit up in spotlights

as they scoured for the ringleader

with his circle of zebras.

One of the little girls pulled out a poster

from the garbage can,

and tried to smooth out the hours 

of crinkled clean up.

She pointed at the tightrope walker

and balanced on a shadow of a nearby telephone pole.

Teetered back and forth on the asphalt cracks,

while her friends started shouting out new ideas

from their megaphone mouths.

They all wanted to be lions

crashing over the field and tear up the loose tubs

like loose childhood gazelles.

The little girl remained on her tight rope

and felt herself grow taller in each step,

but she paused to look back at the group

roaring and tumbling over garbage and mud

and she knew her childhood had left with the circus.


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